All of my parenting email lists and many blogs are abuzz with news of the recall of a bunch of Thomas trains for lead in the paint.  I think it’s drawing a lot of attention for several reasons:

  • These trains are awfully popular.  Pretty much every kid I know has some.
  • They’re expensive, and they’re made of wood, so they have an old-fashioned aura.  People aren’t surprised that the cheap plastic crap from the dollar store is made in China or Mexico, but they don’t expect the stuff that’s $15 for a little train to come off the same assembly line.
  • It’s coming right after there’s been a lot of attention to the impossibility of protecting the food supply from contaminants.

Realistically, I don’t think there’s a need to panic, unless your kid has been walking around sucking on James all day.  While it’s clearly a bad thing, all of us who grew up when leaded gasoline was in common use got exposed to much higher levels of lead.   

(Don’t worry, I will check our train bins to see if we have any that are affected — I think all of ours are older than 2005, though.)

But it does highlight how interconnected — and how vulnerable — we all are in this global economy.  There’s really no way to avoid it.  The part of that NPR story on the food supply that struck me the most is that China produces 80 percent of the world’s Vitamin C.  Unless you’re going to go try to play Robinson Crusoe somewhere, you can’t avoid it.

10 Responses to “poison”

  1. Robin Reagler Says:

    We own several of the red engines. I don’t feel very worried about the health risk. I’m just angry about the fact that these jerks make so much money and cut the same corners at the $ store item producers.

  2. bj Says:

    You can get lead levels checked, to see if there’s reason for concern, but there are lots of likely culprits in our environment.
    I too find this incident (combined with the food safety) problematic. For me, it’s the question of whether we can do business with countries that are not free, where cutting corners can be done more openly than here, where whistle blowers are protected, for example. I know that the US is no paradise, but I comment on what I want, almost completely without fear of reprisal. That’s not the case in China.

  3. Christine Says:

    We did not have any of the toys listed, but our Thomas train has red stripes. My friends with boys are going crazy because they had to take them away. A friend bought a lead test kit and found that more of the trains and part of the the sets not listed contained lead. Alot of recalls get expanded days and weeks following the first alert. One thing my friend read is that you have to scrub down anything that came into contact with the lead toys such as the tracks.
    I think the dog food recall revealed that expensive dog brands were being manufactured with the same ingredients as cheaper, generic store brands. So, I am not surprised that toys fit the same bill. I think in general the higher cost is due to paying for name.

  4. whymommy Says:

    This is really making me mad. First, they create a market for designer toy trains . . . and then we find out that these high quality (?) toys are really made in China with lead paint, just as we fear the cheaper ones are. And who’s to say that the Ikea or Target versions aren’t contaminated as well?
    Tough topic.

  5. mcmilker Says:

    To Christine’s point, in general generic and store brands are made with many of the same ingredients and or at least on the same machinery as branded products. The higher cost of branded products reflects marketing costs and profit targets. For licensed products
    (like Thomas) add another 5-15% of the wholesaler cost that is paid to the owner of the license (HIT entertainment for Thomas products) and you can see why the price doesn’t necessarily match the quality of materials.
    One issue that I keep seeing in many toy recalls though has to do with age appropriateness. Many Thomas products are rated for 2 years and up post mouthing, though one might argue, many children are still in the licking stage. Many recalls I see are for products that present a chocking hazard and are rated 3 years and up…but the recalls are prompted by choking by children under 3.
    I’m not sure there is a real solution here but, I suspect many of us don’t read the warnings or choose to ignore them.
    Just my thoughts.

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  7. Chris P. Says:

    Hello, I am with Viles and Beckman, LLC. We are actively investigating the current Thomas the Tank Engine/RC2 lead toys debacle. If any parents or toy owners would like their toys to have their lead levels check (in an independent lab in Massachusetts) please contact our firm. We will happily accept your toys, return them (if you so wish), and inform you of the results of the testing.
    Thank You,
    Chris P.
    For more information please email (any of the addresses below):
    metasaiyan45@hotmail.com marcus@vilesandbeckman.com

  8. Christine Says:

    83 toys were just recalled by Mattel for high lead levels. No surprise, they were made in China. I had a few Dora the Explorer and Diego toys. I am absolutely disgusted with this entire thing. On a side note, my neighbor’s dog had been sick for a few months and he was not that old – maybe 10, but he was a small terrier. I just found out that he died from pet food that was in the China recall. Elizabeth I hope you can she some light or opinions on this new toy recall.

  9. Christine Says:

    I keep checking to see if you have posted any new thoughts on the endless recall that have been happening. I am a little surprised that you have not addressed these issue in a post.

  10. Christine Says:

    I am interested in the decisions you have made regarding toys for your children.

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