Wednesday, August 16, 2006
After learning that the bendable, Chinese-made toys being given out by the Hood River County Library were contaminated with lead, the White Salmon Valley Community Library wanted to make sure they didn't have the same toys.
"Fortunately, the prizes we've ordered are not the same," said Jennifer Hull, head librarian in White Salmon. "We were just lucky not to have chosen any of those toys. The company we dealt with had them available, but they were not chosen by our district. There was not any wisdom on our part, it was just luck."
The company the White Salmon library gets its prizes from is Rhode Island Novelty. A spokesperson for that company said there was no cause for alarm.
"We are well aware of lead issues and the government guidelines for lead. All items are tested by the manufacturer and the proper documentation is available if necessary," the unidentified representative stated.
However, it was not explained how the other toys that apparently did have serious levels of lead could have been distributed if "all items are tested."
Libraries traditionally give out prizes or treats of some kind to encourage kids to read.
"They are incentives for reading. Every time kids read for 10 hours, they can come in and choose a toy," Hull explained.
Last week, the Hood River County Library, working with the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), issued a recall of potentially hazardous bendable toys given to children as reading incentives.
The toys passed out in Hood River were four-inch tall pliable cats and dogs, which were found to contain between four and six times the federal allowance for lead. Library districts across the nation had access to the toys.
"These toys are a potential health hazard, and children should not be handling them," said Richard Leiker, environmental toxicology manager in Oregon's Department of Human Services/Public Health Division.
Klickitat County residents who frequent the Hood River library are advised to make sure their kids didn't bring any of the suspect toys home.
"A particular concern is that because of the toys' small size and shape, children may put them in their mouths and suck or chew on them," he said.
Parents can return the hazardous toys to the Hood River County Library, and children can choose a replacement toy, said Jayne Guidlinger, children's librarian.
If parents have seen a child chewing or sucking on one of the toys, Leiker advise they contract their health care provider and schedule a blood test to determine lead content. Leiker also advises the parents to either discard or return the toys if they are discovered in the house.
Exposure to lead can interfere with normal brain development, which may lead to a reduced IQ or behavioral problems. Even small amounts of lead can be harmful, according to the ODHS.
For more information about lead and suggesting on protecting family members from lead poising, call the Oregon LeadLine at (800) 368-5060, or on the Web at: www.healthoregon.org/lead.