Recalls have parents worried, kids confused, officials critical By Howard Pankratz The Denver Post Posted: 11/09/2007 01:00:00 AM MST Updated: 11/09/2007 07:42:43 AM MST
As do all 1-year-olds, Cyanna Schutz tends to put every toy in her mouth.
As far as her mom, Kaliea, is concerned - given the current avalanche of toy recalls in the United States - that is not good for Cyanna.
"There seems to be a recall every day," said Schutz, 34, of Denver. "I'm very concerned. I make sure every toy is OK."
In October there were 29 recalls of products that had excessive levels of lead paint in them. Most of them were toys made in China.
Then, on Wednesday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled a very popular craft set, Aqua Dots, composed of beads coated with a chemical that converts into a "date rape" drug when swallowed.
Two children - including a 20-month-old boy who swallowed about a dozen beads - slipped into comas after ingesting the dots. For Melissa Brill, mother of 22-month-old twins Evan and Aaron and 3 1/2-year-old Ashley, the recalls have been a nightmare.
She has thrown away 15 toys and turned her house upside-down in her search for parts missing from the toys she has discarded.
And she is afraid that wherever her kids go, dangerous toys may be lurking - day care, a toy store or the pediatrician.
"The list (of recalled toys) is exhaustive," said Brill, 35, of Lone Tree. "We have to go through every single toy box. We have nine toy boxes. It is a lot of work!"
Not only did she have to throw away toys, but she also had to explain to Ashley why the toys were pitched.
"It was hard for my 3 1/2-year-old to understand," Brill said.
She is concerned not only about her children but also about other kids to whom she has given toys.
"It's a huge worry," she said.
One mother, Erin McCauley, 35, of Denver, is eager to get her 5 1/2-year-old son, Cole Hajde, tested for lead poisoning.
"I'm very nervous about it," she said. "I'm sure I've got (bad toys) lurking
Aqua Dots stick together when they're sprayed with water. They were recalled after children in the U.S. and Australia became ill after eating them. (THE DENVER POST | JOHN PRIETO)all over my house. I'm flipping things over to see where they are made." She said the list of recalled toys on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website is overwhelming.
"They are pages and pages long," McCauley said. "It is unbelievable how long the list is."
The commission has been criticized by various federal legislators, including Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat.
Earlier this week, Nancy Nord, acting head of the commission, appeared before a subcommittee on which DeGette sits. At the hearing, Nord was grilled for taking industry-paid trips to trade shows.
"Nord didn't seem to recognize that it had the appearance of impropriety," DeGette said Thursday. "She is old enough to know better."
Legislators want to require that all toys be tested by an accredited third party and certified by manufacturers that they meet safety standards. They also want to increase funding for the agency to increase staff levels, increase safety commission agents at U.S. ports of entry and improve antiquated testing facilities.
Wednesday's recall "is just another glowing example of the need for comprehensive reform of our consumer system," DeGette said. "While I commend the CPSC for recalling these toys promptly, recalls alone do not solve the problem. Only a small percentage of the products recalled are actually returned, leaving many sitting in our homes just waiting to harm children."
Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Co., 2930 E. Second Ave., has not had to discard any toys and is now inundated with parents trying to find safe toys for their children.
"Not an hour goes by that I don't receive a call where they ask where our products are made," Nelson said. "We have people coming in who have gone through all their children's toys and thrown them out.
"They are looking for replacements, other options and other choices."