U.S. bans 3 brands of Chinese crayons 8 others tainted with lead are recalled

April 06, 1994|By Knight-Ridder News Service

BETHESDA -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned three brands of crayons imported from China, including one sold by retail giant Toys 'R' Us, because they contain enough lead to poison a child who ate even part of one crayon.

Another eight brands of crayons imported from China were voluntarily recalled by their distributors after laboratory tests showed they contained enough lead to poison a child who ate an entire crayon, Ann Brown, the commission chairwoman, announced at a news conference yesterday.

Ms. Brown said the lead-tainted crayons were sold primarily through discount stores, which will pay refunds to anyone who returns the recalled crayons.

"Throw these crayons in the trash or take them back to the store for a refund," said Ms. Brown.

Altogether, 740,000 boxes of lead-tainted crayons have been sold in the United States since 1990, but they do not represent a large share of crayon boxes sold in the past three years, the commission said.

When buying new crayons, Ms. Brown said, consumers should look for American-made brands carrying the label "conforms to ASTM D4236," which signifies it passed safety testing by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Crayola-brand crayons, which are made in the United States and dominate the $130 million annual U.S. crayon market, have been tested and found to contain no measurable levels of lead, Ms. Brown said.

Toys 'R' Us sold 102,000 packs of lead-tainted crayons since 1990 in a cylindrical plastic container with a label stating: "Safe 48 Non-Toxic I'm a Toys 'R' Us Kid! Crayons."

Carol Fuller, a Toys 'R' Us spokeswoman, said an independent testing laboratory had found nothing wrong with the crayons, which sold for $2.49 until March 29 at some of the chain's 581 toy stores.

"We do test them all before we put them on the shelf. And if we don't, the manufacturer we purchase them from does," Ms. Fuller said.

The company is rechecking its tests, she said.

Also banned were crayons sold under the label of Concord Enterprises and Glory Stationery Manufacturing, both of Los Angeles, Calif.

Managers at Baltimore-area Toys 'R' Us stores said last night that the recalled crayons had been removed from the shelves.

They said that they had seen little or no evidence that customers were returning the crayons.

Peter Wu, who identified himself as manager of Glory Stationery, said his firm had only received a few samples of the tainted crayons and had not sold any.

Efforts to reach Concord Enterprises yesterday were unsuccessful.

In the United States, more than 2 million children are estimated to have been poisoned by lead, which can cause a permanent lessening of a child's intelligence.

The safety commission began testing crayons for lead after Arizona public health officials traced high-level lead poisoning in an 11-month-old child to crayons that he had gnawed.

Rosemary Wallace, the child's mother, said she bought a package of Concord crayons at a Dollar Only store in Phoenix as a Christmas present for her four children.

While her older children were coloring, the youngest child, Carlito, would "crawl in and grab a crayon and start chomping," she said.

A blood test in January revealed that Carlito's bloodstream had nearly five times the lead level the federal government sets as the threshold for poisoning. Drug treatments have lowered his blood lead levels, but doctors say it will be five years or longer until they know if the lead diminishes his intelligence.

Crayons "are an absolutely stupid, inexcusable use of lead," said Don Ryan, executive director of the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, a national nonprofit organization based in Washington.

DANGEROUS CRAYONS

BANNED

"12 Jumbo Crayons," Concord Enterprises, Los Angeles.

"Safe 48 Non-Toxic I'm a Toys 'R' Us Kid! Crayons," Toys 'R' Us, Paramus, N.J.

"12 Crayons, Glory" and "18 Crayons That Paint, Conforms to ASTM D-4236," Glory Stationery Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Los Angeles.

RECALLED

"64 Crayons, School Quality, No. 8064," A. J. Cohen Distributors, Hauppauge, N.Y.

"64 Crayons, CR 64-64 CT," Baum Imports, New York.

"12 Super Jumbo Crayons," Dynamic Division of Agora International, St. Albans, N.Y.

"8 Crayons, No. 5 CL 850," Dynamic Division of Aurora International, St. Albans, N.Y.

"Fun Time 72 Crayons, No. B541," Overseas United, New York.

"64 Crayons, Kidz Biz," Bargain Wholesale, Los Angeles.

"64 Crayons, SKU51-02600," Universal International, Minneapolis.

"Feido, 12 Crayons, No. CC8812," Kipp Brothers Inc., Indianapolis.

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