I can say this from first-hand knowledge: the media has over-dramatized the influx of recent toy recalls. It’s BECAUSE of the media that people are frantically throwing out all that’s bad, second-guessing what they buy, and boycotting Chinese manufacturers entirely. But really, is that prudent? No, in fact it is downright harmful to our economy, and threatens our way of life.
First of all, the only way a child will obtain lead poisoning is by sucking on a lead-contaminated item on a near-constant basis for a period of months, up to a couple of years. That is a fact, and you can ask my daughter’s pediatrician! Testing for lead poisoning does not even have to be done unless you feel your child has been exposed to lead in that capacity. Furthermore, such testing only shows up excessive levels of lead in the bloodstream if it is taken shortly after a child has ingested the lead, then gradually lowers to where it is not a concern. Symptoms of lead poisoning include diarrhea and vomiting, fatigue, and spaciness, among others, depending on the individual.
Now, back to the toy recalls…it is necessary to point out that there has not been a single case of a child getting sick with lead poisoning throughout these past few months or heard of anything about a sudden rise of lead poisoning in people to warrant a question about what might be causing it. Keep in mind, with all of the recalls, they have been precautionary as a way of saving face in the event something were to happen. Doesn’t mean they think it will! It’s like selling life insurance to someone who’s perfectly healthy–it doesn’t mean you think they’re going to keel over right then and there, you’re just helping them prepare and be aware.
I’d like to think this whole fiasco is a learning experience for every single person around the world. While consumer trust is up in arms, there are so many things comical about the situation that it makes me want to roll my eyes at how our society here in the U.S. is set to such rigid standards in EVERYTHING that we demand excellence and anything less makes it scandalous. I’m not saying products made in other countries are always shoddy, because that is definitely NOT the case with a lot of the companies’ products I sell whose manufacturers are based out of Europe or Asia. What I am saying is that there is a difference on how we look at things as consumers. In all the other countries outside of the U.S., people aren’t as concerned, so they still buy. They have to, to keep up with us. On the other hand, we’ve certainly gotten what we’ve asked for–in having many of the factories and manufacturing companies in this country close up and move overseas where labor is cheaper, it only stands to reason that quality will not always be what we want. That much has always been true, and yet we’ve put up or shut up, so to speak. So that leads to people wanting American-made items, but grumble about the higher prices. Well, the higher prices are to ensure things made in America can continue to be. If there is a way to truly change all of that to where we could buy things made in this country for less, then someone should be on that pronto! There is no better time to get that ball rolling than now.
But now on to what the recalls have been doing to the stores here. As a sales clerk in a specialty toy store, I’ve seen my share of skeptics who are hell-bent on not buying non-U.S. products as a way of getting back at the Chinese companies. Well, that only hurts them in the end because consumers are needed to keep our economy growing. So let me shed some light on what you shouldn’t be worried about:
Your child will NOT get sick from touching a toy with lead in it.
Your child will NOT get sick if he or she ingested lead a few years ago (but isn’t STILL doing that anymore).
What gets me is that the items that are known for having lead in them (like spiral-bound books, or pencils) are being recalled, but why? I mean, anyone who uses those things don’t put them in their mouths, do they?? The motto should be, if you’re ingesting things with lead in them, then you’re not old enough to use them, because you’re using them wrong! Ordinarily, there is nothing that we use in our everyday lives (with lead in it) that we ingest regularly. Plus, lead is found in soil–that’s right, common dirt found in the backyard–and no one makes a big stink about that! And what about working with stained glass? Or being at a construction site? Lead is right there, and we’ve somehow overlooked the fact that lead is around us all the time, so we need to get over our fears!
As far as buying toys, I will say that the specialty toy industry is beckoning consumers because we have not had ANY of our toys recalled for lead. We have received several letters of assurance from many of our major product companies backing the safety and quality of their toys. As mentioned in one of those letters, we were urged not to generalize or fault China as a whole for what a handful of shoddy manufacturers did to mask unsafe toys. Panic is simply not going to help the cause, and neither is being uninformed. The truth of the matter is, specialty toys are safe, and have to be because the companies who make them are known for ONLY those products, and cannot afford to have the least bit of problem in their items for fear of complete ruination of their organizations, unlike Mattel and Fisher Price who are so huge that even having only a portion of their products recalled will still see them sitting with high earnings at the end of the day.