- from msnbc.com
Zhu Zhu Pets — one of the holiday season’s hottest toy crazes — do not violate safety standards, federal toy regulators said Monday after a consumer group raised concerns over the presence of a heavy metal on one model.
The toy “is not out of compliance” with a U.S. toy safety law that went into effect this year, a spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission told The Associated Press. The agency did not test the toy.
The California-based consumer group GoodGuide raised concerns starting Saturday over the presence of a potentially harmful heavy metal in a Mr. Squiggles model of the robotic hamsters. The group said its testing found antimony — a heavy metal that can cause vomiting if eaten, and heart and lung problems if breathed — on the furry toy’s hair and nose in levels that exceeded new federal limits.
But those claims fell apart Monday, when GoodGuide said the way it got its test results — using a special gun that shoots X-rays into a toy and gives a reading for how much lead, antimony or other substances are in the material — is not recognized by the CPSC for judging whether a toy is hazardous.
Instead, the CPSC tests how much of a heavy metal would actually seep out if a child sucked or swallowed a toy — not just how much of a potentially dangerous substance a toy contains.
“While we accurately reported the chemical levels in the toys that we measured using our testing method, we should not have compared our results to federal standards,” GoodGuide said in a written release. “We regret this error.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has opened an investigation into the popular Zhu Zhu Pets toy because it may contain higher-than-allowed levels of antimony
, a heavy metal which if ingested can make children sick, NBC News reported.
The CPSC probe came after San Francisco-based GoodGuide named Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters one of the top-selling toys with low ratings after finding the chemical on the hair and nose of one of the toy hamsters, called Mr. Squiggles.
The group assigned the toy, aimed at 3- to 10-year-olds, a rating of 5.2 on a 10-point scale.
On prolonged exposure, antimony — which is used in textiles and plastics to prevent them from catching fire — can cause lung and heart problems, ulcers and diarrhea.
But the toy's maker, St. Louis-based Cepia LLC, insisted in a statement that its Mr. Squiggles toy is "absolutely safe" and has passed rigorous testing. The company said it was contacting GoodGuide to share its testing data and determine how the report was founded.
Antimony was measured at 93 parts per million in the hamster's fur and at 106 parts per million in its nose. Both readings exceed the allowable level of 60 parts per million, said GoodGuide CEO Dara O'Rourke, an associate professor of environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley.
O'Rourke said GoodGuide's test results, released Friday, also indicated the possibility that some toys contained phthalates, chemicals that were subject to tougher standards in the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act passed last year.
The CPSIA created some of the toughest lead limits in the world and banned certain phthalates in toys, and included mandatory limits on other heavy metals, such as antimony.