Over the many years since we have known about the hazards of lead, tens of millions of children have suffered its health effects. Even today there are still at minimum more than four hundred thousand children under the age of six who have too much lead in their blood. Over the past few months, concerns about lead paint in children’s toys made by companies such as Mattel, Fischer-Price, and Hasbro have come up and stores have initiated several recalls of various toys.
Lead, unfortunately, can cause serious health problems if consumed. It is most common for lead to slowly build up over time from repeated exposure to small amounts of it. Lead is much more harmful to children than adults, because it can severely affect the developing brains and nerves of children. It is estimated that 1 in every 20 kids have too much lead in their blood. Victims to lead poisoning may suffer a lowered IQ, difficulty sleeping, and brain damage.
If lead has been known to cause severe health defects, then why do toy-making companies continue to use lead paint? The answer is simple: it’s cheaper. Paint with high levels of lead sells about three times cheaper than paint with low levels. Companies surely knew that the paint in children’s toys they made contained high levels of lead. All toy-making companies worry about, however, is how well their business is doing economically. Mattel, for instance, makes all of their toy products in China, an intensely competitive, poorly run, and cheap labor market, where taking chances and cut corners to receive higher profits is quite common. The regulations are supposed to safeguard health, particularly in cases involving children, where ingesting excessive amounts of lead has been linked to mental disorders, but enforcement of these regulations is lax in China. Of roughly 39 lead-related recalls this year, 38 were of Chinese-made goods.
We cannot put all the blame on the Chinese Toy Industry, however. We must also consider the fact that the...
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