There is no safe level of lead exposure. Lead is toxic, especially to children, and it accumulates in the body. It is unconscionable that a toy manufacturer would use, or allow the use, of lead paints. The RC2 Corporation has been forced by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall 1.5 million toys in the Thomas the Train series produced between January 2005 and June 2007. These wooden toy trains and accessories were manufactured with lead paint at a facility in China operated by RC2. The toy factory in China used red and yellow lead paint. Another similar complaint was filed with the CPCS in 2006 regarding an orange metal toy in the “Take Along Thomas” collection. This report originated from a nurse’s home visit to a child who had a positive lead blood test. She detected lead in the toy train, which the child had put in his mouth.
Toys manufactured in the US prior to the 1970s were typically painted with lead-based paints. Lead was used for many years despite the warnings from medical professionals about its dangers for children. During the 1960s and ’70s the lead industry insisted that children could sustain blood-lead levels as high as 50 to 70 mcg per decileter without harm. Since that time researchers have discovered that lead levels even below 10 mcg/dl are associated with a decrease in IQ. Since the 1970s lead has been removed from all paints in the US, but not in all other countries. Recalls in the recent past have included trinkets and gum machine toys and imitation jewelry. Thomas Trains are high-end, expensive toys, often purchased by parents who have concerns about the potential toxicity of plastic toys and the pthalates in soft, pliable toys. The US now prevents the use of lead in toys and other consumer products that are produced here, but testing of imports is lax, and rules in China are virtually non-existent. Chinese officials have dismissed concerns about lead in toys in the past. For example, the Chinese government was the sole opposition to a proposed U.S. standard limiting the amount of lead in children’s jewelry. Guo LiSheng, a government official, provided written comments saying that if the jewelry was coated, not much lead would leak out, doing “little harm to children.”
Parents need to be aware of the potential harm that these imported toys cause to small children, and they should view the label “Made in China” as a warning. Many other toys could also have the same problem, and as parents and concerned consumers you may want to discuss these issues with your elected representatives in government requesting that they direct the FDA to more vigilance and action in protecting our children from lead exposure from toys made in China.
If you have Thomas Trains in your house check them against the list at the US CPCS website. The report issued by the CPSC can be found at their website with a complete list and pictures of the contaminated toys.
The recall page for the RC2 Corporation can be found on their website with instructions about returning toys that are contaminated. Fill out the return form on their website.
Attn: Wooden Vehicle Recall
2021 9th Street SE
U.S. Return Form