Neither the government nor the American public raised much of an eyebrow last year when Ashland University researchers reported finding high levels of toxic lead in toy jewelry imported from China.
But the findings got some belated buzz with the recent spate of recalls and safety warnings over imports from China _ including toy trains decorated with lead paint, along with tainted pet food, toothpaste with a potentially poisonous chemical and toxic fish.
“It was decades ago that there were all those lead problems and people think that was solved and there’s no longer any need to worry about it,” said Jill Eppley, 21, of Millersburg, an Ashland University senior who participated in testing children’s jewelry for lead.
Eppley thinks last year’s research at Ashland, similar research in 2005 at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and recalls over the years didn’t make an impression with American consumers willing to let the regulatory bureaucracy take its course.
“I think people think the government is regulating it and there’s no worry for them to even think about it,” Eppley said.
To teach laboratory skills, researchers Jeffrey D. Weidenhamer and Michael Clement at Ashland University enlisted their students to test inexpensive toy jewelry items for lead. Most were imported from China and 14 of 20 samples had a lead content high above the government safety level of 0.06 percent. Some tested at 60 percent to 90 percent lead content.
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