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Target Stops Selling Lead-Tainted Valentine Bears

Feb 10, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

A letter from the California Attorney General has prompted Target to pull two Valentine's Day "Message Bears" from its shelves.   Earlier this week, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced that its tests of the “Message Bears” found  high levels of lead.

Lead poisoning is considered the greatest environmental health threat to children under the age of six. In children and fetuses, lead exposure can cause brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. Experts agree that there is no safe level of lead. Most noteworthy, children under the age of six face these great risks because their growing bodies absorb lead more easily than adult bodies do.

According to CEH,  the inflated vinyl Valentine’s Day love messages (eg, “I love U”) the "Message Bears" were carrying had lead levels that were nearly 10 times higher than what is allowed under federal law. Results of the CEH tests prompted California Attorney General Jerr Brown to send a letter to Target requesting a recall of the bears. A spokesperson for Target told the Associated Press that the retailer has received that letter, and is conducting an internal investigation. The officials said Target is removing the toy bears from shelves as well as hard-locking them at the registers.

The action involves two “Message Bears.” One is a pink stuffed bear with “XOXO” across the chest and the other a brown stuffed bear with “I Love U” across the chest, with “love” represented by a heart. The bears were made in China and sold exclusively by Target stores.

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