From 2008 to 2011, more than 160 separate toy recalls were announced because of toxic lead or cadmium levels that violated standards for safety. Both chemicals can interrupt normal brain development, causing permanent damage to the nervous system, including reduced IQ.
But the number of recalls has dropped off steeply, with only one in 2012. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is responsible for recalling unsafe products of various kinds, it is doing a better job of preventing unsafe toys from being sold in the first place.
(The Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture are responsible for food recalls, and there have been many food recalls in the past year.)
The commission has screened 3,700 products at ports of entry, and prevented the distribution of 319 products that violated health and safety rules from January through April 2012. At the top of the list of products stopped at the border? "Children's products containing levels of lead exceeding the federal limits."
"CPSC investigators are standing shoulder to shoulder with Customs and Border Protection agents and working to prevent defective and violative products from ever reaching store shelves and the hands of consumers," Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said.
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