The U.S. government has taken legal action against four California companies and six individuals in an effort to halt their illegal importation of dangerous children’s products containing lead, phthalates, small parts that pose a hazard to young children, and other potentially deadly defects.
The U.S. Justice Department, acting on a request of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), filed an injunction in California federal court against Toys Distribution Inc. (TDI International); S&J Merchandise Inc., BLJ Apparel Inc., and All Season Sales Inc.
Individuals named in the injunction are identified as Loan Tuyet Thai, Lan My Lam, Paul Phuong, Cuc T. Thai, Tom Liu, and Luan Luu.
CPSC regulators who investigated the defendants found they had imported various items that violated the Consumer Product Safety Act and Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Some of the products described in the injunction include motorized toy cars and kitchen play sets with illegal levels of lead and small parts hazards; dolls containing high levels of lead and phthalates, a toxic chemical that makes plastic items more pliable; musical instruments and infant rattles with small parts that pose a significant choking hazard, and other items.
Three of the companies – S&J Merchandise, BLJ Apparel, and All Seasons Sales—have agreed to settle the litigation and accept the terms of a consent decree of permanent injunction, effectively barring them from certain types of trade. Tom Liu and Luan Luu also agreed to settle the charges with the Justice Department, but the lawsuit continues against the remaining defendants.
In November, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) published its 28th annual report on hazardous toys, finding that plenty of potentially deadly toys continue to find their way to the U.S. store shelves from overseas, mostly Asian markets.
The group had several toys laboratory tested. The results showed “several toys with high lead levels including a toddler toy with 29 times the legal limit of lead (2900 ppm), and play jewelry for children with 2 times the legal limit (200 ppm).”
“We also found an infant play mat with high levels of the toxic metal antimony, and a child’s pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium,” PIRG said in a statement about the report.
The organization also found several toys available for children 3 and younger with small parts that posed a serious choking hazard. Toys with powerful magnets that can be fatal if swallowed are also available, despite the CPSC’s protests.