Following up on the problem of cadmium in Wal-Mart toys made in China, I recall that the Mr. Squiggles controversy (discussed here) was solved because the company making Mr. Squiggles required he be tested according to a European Union standard. When the controversy struck, all the firm had to do was whip out (and post to the internet) their report from a Hong Kong laboratory.  Problem solved.

Applying that standard would have prevented the problem with these Wal-Mart toys.

From a 2001 NIST report (pdf here) entitled “A Guide to the EU Safety of Toys,” quoting from the European Union standard, EN 71:

3. Chemical Properties
Toys must be made so that they do not present health hazards or risks of physical injury by reason of ingestion, inhalation, or contact with the skin, mucous tissues, or eyes. They must, in fact, comply, with the relevant Community legislation relating to certain categories of products or to the prohibition, restriction of use, or labeling of certain dangerous substances and preparations.
In particular, for the protection of children’s health, bioavailability resulting from the use of toys must not, as an objective, exceed the following levels (or such levels as may be laid down for these or other substances in Community legislation based on scientific evidence) per day. (The bioavailability of these substances means the soluble extract having toxicological significance):
·  0.2 mg for antimony.
·  0.1 mg for arsenic.
·  25.0 mg for barium.
·  0.6 mg for cadmium.
·  0.3 mg for chromium.
·  0.7 mg for lead.
·  0.5 mg for mercury.
·  5.0 mg for selenium.

This is only part of the EN 71 standard, which is a good read for anybody running Wal-Mart.


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