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Some Chinese-made baby bibs contain lead

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This is a little freaky for me in particular, as Dawn recently bought the twins new bibs and while she didn't get them at the store mentioned in the article, they were made in China. But what ISN'T made in China, for realz?

Edit: After reading the article further, I found out that the bibs we bought at Wal-Mart have actually been recalled. Oh my God the girls have lead poisoning.

Some China-made baby bibs are found to contain lead
By Eric Lipton Published: August 15, 2007

WASHINGTON: Certain vinyl baby bibs sold at Toys 'R' Us stores appear to be contaminated with lead, laboratory tests have shown, another example of a product made in China that may be a health hazard to children.

The vinyl bibs, which feature illustrations of baseball bats and soccer balls and Disney's Winnie the Pooh characters, are sold for less than $5 each under store-brand labels, including Especially for Baby and Koala Baby.

Tests this summer, financed by the Center for Environmental Health of Oakland, California, found lead as high as three times the level allowed in paint in several styles of the bibs purchased from both Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us stores in California.

A separate test by a laboratory hired by The New York Times of the same Toys 'R' Us bibs, purchased in Maryland, found a similar level of contamination.

"These bibs are exposing children to lead in an unnecessary way," said Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health, a nonprofit agency that for the last decade has been testing consumer products for lead, in an effort to remove them from the market.

Kathleen Waugh, a Toys 'R' Us spokeswoman, said that the company had done its own tests on the bibs as recently as May and found them in compliance with safety standards for lead levels.

"Our uncompromising commitment to safety has been, and continues to be, our highest priority," she said in a written statement.

Officials from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates children's products, said they agreed that lead had no place in bibs.

But their own recent tests of baby bibs on the market in the United States found that the lead, when present, was at levels low enough that a child chewing on or rubbing the bib would not get an unhealthy dose.

As a result, the agency urges parents to discard vinyl bibs only if they are ripped or otherwise deteriorated. But agency officials have not pushed for a recall of lead-contaminated bibs, including a brand sold this year at Wal-Mart Stores, which the Center for Environmental Health also identified.

Wal-Mart removed the bibs from its store shelves nationwide, but in Illinois, where 60,000 of the bibs had been sold, a strict lead law required their recall.

The bibs were imported for Toys 'R' Us by Hamco Baby Products, the same company that made the bibs for Wal-Mart. The bibs will be retested, said Waugh, the Toys 'R' Us spokeswoman.

Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us are jointly controlled by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Bain Capital and Vornado Realty Trust. Hamco is a unit of Crown Crafts.

The agency's approach has drawn criticism from some children's advocates, and local and state health officials.

"All lead is bad lead," said Patrick MacRoy, director of the Chicago lead poisoning prevention program. "Why should we allow any lead to be in there?"

The lead tests done for the Center for Environmental Health, conducted by the National Food Laboratory in Dublin, California, found levels as high as 1,800 parts per million in the Toys 'R' Us bibs - three times the amount allowed in lead paint.

The tests of the Toys 'R' Us bibs conducted in July for The New York Times by the same lab found similar results.

A separate test by Bureau Veritas, a testing lab in Buffalo, New York, found little lead in the clear plastic pocket of the bib, but said that the lead in the colorful part of the bib was at levels high enough that it could transfer to a baby's fingers.

A third lab, STAT Analysis of Chicago, found low levels both of total lead and of what is called "accessible" lead, or the lead a child could ingest by sucking or chewing on the bib.

Federal officials, when testing bibs, do three kinds of tests - one by checking the total amount of lead using solvents, another by rubbing the vinyl with a swab and testing the swab for lead, and a third by soaking the bib in a salty solution and testing the solution for lead.

These tests, on bibs collected this year, did at times find lead.

But the federal commission concluded that even if infants had the bibs in their mouths all day long, not enough lead would leach into their blood system to cause harm.

Based on these results, the agency concluded that the bibs did not present a hazard as long as they were not deteriorated.

But MacRoy, other health officials and children's advocates argue that the federal commission uses an antiquated standard for what level of lead in a child's bloodstream represents a hazard.

When combined with lead from other sources, including perhaps lead-based paint in an old house or lead-contaminated jewelry, the bibs could still result in poisoning or neurological damage in a child. As a result, Cox, among others, has urged parents to stop using the Toys 'R' Us bibs.