Safety panel lowers toy lead limits

Associated Press / July 14, 2011

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WASHINGTON - The amount of lead allowed in toys and other children’s products sold in the United States will soon be reduced to one of the lowest limits in the world. The move was praised by consumer advocates, but denounced by critics worried about job losses and shuttered businesses.

In a 3-to-2 vote split along party lines, the Consumer Product Safety Commission cleared the way yesterday for the limit to be lowered next month so that most products intended for children 12 and under will move from being about 99.97 percent lead free to 99.99 percent lead free.

Proponents say there’s no known safe level of lead, which can cause irreversible brain damage, learning disabilities, and other problems such as aggressive behavior. With its vote, the agency decided that it is “technologically feasible’’ for manufacturers in the United States and overseas to make products that meet the lower lead standard.

“As a result of the commission’s decision today, consumers can rest assured that lead should be virtually nonexistent in toys and other children’s products,’’ said commission chairwomen Inez Tenenbaum, a Democrat.

The panel’s Republicans, Nancy Nord and Anne Northup, criticized the decision, saying the amount of allowable lead is essentially trace levels.

The new standard takes effect Aug. 14.

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