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The Green Life: Policing the Toy Shelves

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December 16, 2008

Policing the Toy Shelves

Policeman Conscious consumers have been using a handheld device called the X-Ray Fluorescence (NitonXRF) Analyzer to test for levels of harmful elements in toys. With 45 million toys recalled in 2007, more in 2008, and no major government agency regulating the industry, product safety is a major issue again this holiday season. 

Individuals and consumer-advocacy groups, such as the Center for Environmental Health, are now using the technology employed by such organizations as the Consumer Product Safety Commission to test toys already on the shelf. The center found harmful levels of lead in a Wal-Mart toy and convinced California's attorney general and Wal-Mart stores to remove the product. 

While the XRF gun makes testing products more efficient, the information isn't conclusive and third parties are often consulted for lab testing. Despite the drastic change in consumer-product safety regulations set to take place in February, consumers and advocacy groups are still concerned. Those without access to an XRF gun can use home tester kits, bring toys to free testing at advocacy group headquarters, or find information online. No one wants to find coal, let alone lead, in their stocking this year.

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