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US: Lead found in more baby bibs? Bibs sold in Toys R Us, Babies R Us questioned


by Anna Marie KukecDaily Herald
August 16th, 2007

A California consumer group said Wednesday it has filed a legal action
against Toys R Us and Babies R Us for selling vinyl baby bibs said to
contain high levels of lead.

After hearing the news, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office
immediately dispatched investigators to buy the bibs and have them tested
at independent labs.

The bibs include Disney's Winnie the Pooh characters and store brands
called Koala Baby and Especially For Baby, which were found to have three
to four times the legal limit for lead, said The Center for Environmental
Health.

Toys R Us and Babies R Us said Wednesday it began to immediately pull
those products from the shelves and test them for lead.

For the second time this year, vinyl bibs used to catch drool and food
under a baby's chin have been the focus of lead testing.

Baby bibs, such as Disney’s Winnie the Pooh bibs and ones with brands
Koala Baby and Especially For Baby, at Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores
have high levels of lead, a consumer group charged Wednesday. Illinois
Attorney General Lisa Madigan is investigating. (Courtesy of Center for
Environmental Health.)

In May, the consumer group and Madigan found that vinyl bibs sold by
Wal-Mart contained lead. Their pressure lead to those products being
pulled from Wal-Mart's shelves.

At that time, they learned of the lead from 66-year-old grandmother
Marilyn Furer of Mount Prospect. She had tested her grandson Jensen's bibs
after hearing about similar reports of lead in plastic lunch boxes. So
many of her grandson's bibs tested positive that she contacted the
California group, which spearheaded the campaign.

"You have to be very scared of what's out there," Furer said Wednesday
after hearing of the second round of testing. "No level of lead should be
acceptable in a bib."

In Wednesday's action, the Center for Environmental Health said it filed a
60-day notice of violation in California. Toys R Us and Babies R Us said
it hasn't been served yet.

"There's a complicated line of liability to follow the law and that
primarily involves the manufacturer, but we could go after the retailer as
well," said Caroline Cox, the center's research director.

Kathleen Waugh, a spokeswoman for Toys R Us and Babies R Us, said the bibs
have met federal standards. But the company decided to pull the bibs off
store shelves this week and test them.

"Because the products we sell are at the heart of our relationship with
our customers, we require them to meet extremely high safety standards,
including both federal government requirements and the even more stringent
California Proposition 65 requirements," Waugh said. "Our bibs are tested
against those standards every six months by an independent testing
facility and passed these rigorous tests, including as recently as May."

Toys R Us has 1,500 freestanding toy and baby specialty stores worldwide.
The company sells merchandise through 586 toy stores nationwide and more
than 670 international toy stores. Babies R Us sells merchandise in more
than 250 stores nationwide. Both also sell products online.

Illinois has one of the toughest laws nationwide regarding lead poisoning
prevention. It bans any children's product that contains more than 600
parts per million of lead, said Cara Smith, deputy chief of staff for
policy and communications at the Illinois attorney general's office.

Smith said the law provides for $2,500 in fines for each violation, and an
additional $250 per day for each violation that continues.

Investigators will have the bibs tested this week and the results will be
reviewed. Smith said they also will trace down manufacturers and
distributors involved in bibs that contain lead.

"Kids chew on bibs. That's what they do," said Smith. "It's hard to
envision any product that could cause a bigger problem for children than
bibs. It goes in their mouth sometimes and so would the lead. It's
shocking to know we're dealing with this."



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