In a year already notable for a record number of lead-based recalls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced seven separate recalls Wednesday of Chinese-manufactured toys and children's jewelry for containing unlawful levels of lead, including 200,000 more of the Thomas & Friends wooden railway toys sold by a Chicago-area company.
The seven recalls, totaling more than 600,000 units, bring the total lead-based recalls in 2007 to 50 -- more than double the most recalls in any single previous year in the agency's history.
Oak Brook-based RC2 Corp. said it was recalling five additional railway toys -- two vehicles and three accessories -- due to excessive levels of lead in the paint. The company recalled 1.5 million railway toys in June.
In a statement, the company said that since the first recall, "more than 1,500 individual Thomas & Friends styles have been retested to ensure their safety. This precautionary testing of past production led to five additional discoveries that prompted this voluntary recall."
The company said that it had increased the scope and frequency of testing of raw materials as well as finished products. In addition, the company said it had implemented tougher standards for contract manufacturers and paint suppliers, mandatory paint control procedures in the plants and increased random inspections and audits.
The company also reported that it had recovered more than 1 million of the toys that were recalled in June.
RC2 also announced a separate recall of 800 of its "Knights of the Sword" toys for lead paint.
The other recalls included 350,000 children's gardening tools and chairs by Target. The items include the Happy Giddy gardening tools and the Sunny Patch children's chairs.
Other recalled items included:
- 10,000 floor puppet theaters, sold by Guidecraft Inc., Englewood, N.J.
- 23,500 Toby & Me jewelry sets, sold by TOBY N.Y.C. of New York.
- 16,000 children's toy rakes, sold by Jo-Ann Stores Inc., of Hudson, Ohio.
- 850 children's spinning wheel metal necklaces, sold by Rhode Island Novelty, of Cumberland, R.I.
RC2, Target and Rhode Island Novelty were among 19 companies with previous recalls this year that were directed to respond earlier this month to questions posed by the House Energy & Commerce committee.
In the 30 years since the safety commission has been monitoring lead levels in consumer items, the agency has issued 154 recalls, with 70 of the recalls coming since January of last year.
Congressional committees have held hearings in recent weeks on the influx of lead-tainted toys and children's products. Earlier this month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, "More than 25 million Chinese-manufactured toys have been recalled this summer alone. That is a staggering number and an indictment of our toy safety system."
Durbin and other legislators are pushing bills aimed at strengthening the authority and staff of the safety commission as well new requirements that all children's products be certified as having met rigorous product safety standards by independent laboratories.
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