High lead lev­els found in pop­u­lar spin gad­gets

Tests show fid­get spin­ners, tech­ni­cally not toys, have up to 330 times the le­gal level for kids’ items.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Abha Bhat­tarai Bhat­tarai writes for the Wash­ing­ton Post.

Fid­get spin­ners — the mul­ti­pronged, whirling gad­gets that be­came so pop­u­lar this year that some schools banned them as a dis­trac­tion — have been mar­keted as play­ful di­ver­sions meant to help peo­ple calm down and focus.

But now a con­sumer ad­vo­cacy group says that two types of fid­get spin­ners be­ing sold at Tar­get could be dan­ger­ous. The items — Fid­get Wild Pre­mium Spin­ner Brass and Fid­get Wild Pre­mium Spin­ner Metal — were found to con­tain as much as 330 times the fed­eral le­gal limit for lead in chil­dren’s prod­ucts, ac­cord­ing to lab tests con­ducted for the U.S. Pub­lic In­ter­est Re­search Group, or U.S. PIRG, Ed­u­ca­tion Fund.

The group is call­ing on Tar­get to stop sell­ing the items and is­sue re­calls for the ones it has al­ready sold.

Tar­get says the gad­gets, which sell for $19.99, are not toys but rather “gen­eral use prod­ucts” be­cause they are mar­keted to users 14 and older. (Fed­eral law de­fines “chil­dren’s prod­ucts” as items that are de­signed pri­mar­ily for use by chil­dren 12 and younger.)

“The two fid­get spin­ners cited are clearly marked on the pack­age as ‘ap­pro­pri­ate for cus­tomers ages 14 and older,’ and are not mar­keted to chil­dren,” a Tar­get spokesman said in an email. “As a re­sult, the fid­get spin­ners iden­ti­fied are not reg­u­lated as toys or chil­dren’s prod­ucts and are not re­quired to meet chil­dren’s prod­uct stan­dards.”

Fed­eral laws limit the lead in chil­dren’s prod­ucts to 100 parts per mil­lion (ppm). Lab tests last month showed the Fid­get Wild Spin­ner Pre­mium Brass con­tained 33,000 ppm of lead in its cen­ter cir­cle and 22,000 ppm in its arm, ac­cord­ing to U.S. PIRG. The Fid­get Wild Pre­mium Spin­ner Metal con­tained 1,300 ppm in the cen­ter cir­cle and 520 ppm in its arm, the group said.

The prod­ucts are sup­plied by Bulls-I-Toys, based in Des Moines.

“Safety is one of our top pri­or­i­ties,” Howard Chiz­ick, a spokesman for Bulls-IToys, said in an email. “All of our prod­uct are tested and com­ply with [Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion] safety stan­dards.”

Ex­po­sure to high lev­els of lead can cause or­gan dam­age and long-term health prob­lems.

U.S. PIRG said it sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to five Tar­get stores around the coun­try who found the spin­ners be­ing sold in the toy depart­ment. The Fid­get Wild Spin­ner Pre­mium Brass is also be­ing sold on Tar­get’s web­site. “Framed as a toy, the fid­get spin­ner is also a great stress-re­lief tool,” the on­line de­scrip­tion reads. Be­low that, it says the man­u­fac­turer cat­e­go­rizes the item as be­ing for ages “6 years and up.” (The prod­uct’s box, how­ever, spec­i­fies the toy is for “ages 14+.”)

“Say­ing fid­get spin­ners aren’t toys de­fies com­mon sense, as mil­lions of par­ents whose kids play with spin­ners can tell you,” said Kara Cook-Schultz, tox­ics direc­tor for U.S. PIRG.

The ad­vo­cacy group says it has no­ti­fied the Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion, a fed­eral body, of the high lead lev­els. A com­mis­sion spokes­woman said she could not com­ment specif­i­cally on the prod­ucts sold by Tar­get. On its web­site, the agency says, “most fid­get spin­ners are gen­eral use prod­ucts un­less they are pri­mar­ily in­tended for chil­dren 12 years of age and younger.”

“The CPSC, Tar­get and Bulls-I-Toys need to ac­knowl­edge the ob­vi­ous — that all fid­get spin­ners are toys,” Cook-Schultz said.

‘The CPSC, Tar­get and Bulls-I-Toys need to ac­knowl­edge the ob­vi­ous — that all fid­get spin­ners are toys.’ — Kara Cook-Schultz, tox­ics direc­tor for U.S. PIRG

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