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Cheap imports, now with a healthy dose of lead paint

Americans buy in bulk. Examples range from the Louisiana Purchase to the 48-pack of toilet paper at the grocery store. Nobody poops enough to need 48 rolls of toilet paper at once but the fact is, even when it comes to toilet paper, buying in bulk saves money.

Spend less and get more. Many companies have this philosophy in mind when they decide to outsource their toy and trinket production to China.

The Chinese toy machine seems to be a gold mine. Chump change goes in, cheap toys come out. Companies rake in cash while kids drool over toys. Sunshine and lollipops for everyone. That is, until parents learn their kids are sucking on lead.

Many companies are quickly finding out you get what you paid for. In this case they paid for lead paint, lots of it.

Lead is dangerous to everyone, especially children. According to WebMD, it can cause irreversible changes in irritability, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, learning ability and growth in children. This makes daily life risky for kids that have a taste for paint chips and a passion for licking walls.

There are ongoing efforts to clean up areas where lead-based paints have been used. The University, for example, just received a $228,000 grant from the EPA to help rid rural houses in northwest Ohio of the lead paint that has been caked on them since their construction.

Keeping a kid’s tongue off the walls is one thing, keeping it off of a toy is near impossible. The discovery of lead paint on toys from China sparked widespread recalls starting last summer and the recalls are still increasing.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) lists on their Web site there have been nine recalls in only the last eight days. Among the items listed over the past week are 1,039,000 toys for children. All from China. All in violation of the federal lead paint standard.

As the recalls continue to pile up, it becomes apparent lead paint is being used on more products than just toys.

The list includes 11,200 water bottles, 150,000 journals and bookmarks and 63,000 cups. There are also 192,000 key chains being recalled from Dollar General with “hope” engraved on them. As in, I “hope” I don’t get lead poisoning.

Over 1.6 million Cub Scout totem badges are being recalled, too. Congratulations Timmy, here’s your totem badge and a possibility of future brain damage.

It is evident China is not meeting minimum quality standards in place to keep Americans safe. If it were just a few products then it would be an annoyance, but with millions being recalled it’s inexcusable.

In September, the CPSC reported the U.S. and China made an agreement to improve the safety of consumer products made in China and sold in the U.S.

Whether this will result in a safer product for Americans is unknown. What is known is Chinese manufacturing companies are as trustworthy as brakes on a Bowling Green fire truck. Lead paint is known to be harmful, but was still used on what would be an infant’s toy.

The situation is appalling enough as it is and can only be made worse if American companies continue to fund corner cutting manufacturers in favor of slightly higher profits.

According to the AFP, about 60 percent of the world’s toys are sporting the “Made in China” label. If millions of products are being recalled today, how many should have been recalled in the past?

It is impossible to know the extent of the lead paint use or how long it has been used, but the next time someone asks me if I ate paint chips as a kid, I can say that I probably did.

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