Environmentalists sued the federal government Thursday to stop the sale of toy jewelry made with lead, citing dangers it can pose to brain development in children.
SAN FRANCISCO Environmentalists sued the federal government Thursday to stop the sale of toy jewelry made with lead, citing dangers it can pose to brain development in children.
The San Francisco-based Sierra Club wants the Environmental Protection Agency to find ways to stop the sale or production of toy necklaces, bracelets and rings containing lead.
"I don't think parents realize that these pieces of jewelry have the potential to be harmful," said Jessica Frohman, head of a Sierra Club committee on toxic substances. Children can be exposed to dangerous levels of lead if they suck on or swallow the jewelry, she said.
The attorneys general in California and Illinois sent letters to the EPA supporting the Sierra Club complaint.
The EPA would not comment directly on the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in San Francisco. But spokesman Mark Merchant said the agency has a "comprehensive set of regulations" to protect children from lead. It does not, however, have specific regulations for toy jewelry containing lead, he said.
Inexpensive toy jewelry made with lead or painted with lead paint is sold nationwide in vending machines and in stores that sell mainly to immigrant communities.
A 4-year-old Minnesota boy died of lead poisoning in February after swallowing a heart-shaped charm from a bracelet distributed by Reebok International. In March, the company recalled 300,000 of the silver-colored, Chinese-made bracelets found to be 90 percent lead.
Earlier this year, more than 70 major U.S. retailers, including Target, Kmart, Sears and Toys "R" Us, agreed to stop selling children's jewelry containing lead in California after an advocacy group, the Center for Environmental Health, and the state attorney general sued in 2004.
Source: Associated Press