You'd think that toy suppliers and buyers would have learned their lesson a few years back when Thomas the Train went off the lead-free rails. Guess again. I recently came across this story on CNN which suggests that lead paint and other toxic chemicals are practically oozing out of toys. According to the article, "Researchers for the Michigan-based Ecology Center tested more than 1,500 popular toys for lead, cadmium, arsenic, PVC and other harmful chemicals. They said they found that one-third of the toys contain "medium" or "high" levels of chemicals of concern."
What type of analysis did they perform? A relatively simple one -- an approach to check for potential hazardous substances that importers should have done themselves. To test the toys, the group used a "handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) device that uses x-ray fluorescence spectrometry to detect chemicals like lead, cadmium, chlorine, arsenic, mercury, tin, and antimony." So why wasn't this done before? Good question. Perhaps it's because the toy industry could give two figs about shortening the lifespan and reducing the quality of life for their customers. After all, as long as they survive to adulthood, they'll reproduce and start the cycle all over again.
- Jason Busch