After I took a bunch of flack for raising concerns about Good Guide’s testing of a Zhu Zhu Pet and its applicability given that the applicable US standard is for soluble antimony, not total, I feel vindicated. Completely. Today, the Good Guide issued a press release admitting that it used the wrong test to compare its toy testing results to the US standard. If you didn’t read the first post, basically, Good Guide claimed that the wildly popular Mr. Squiggles was full of toxic antimony and violated US standards. But I cried foul, pointing out that the Good Guide was using XRF analysis, which only tests for total, and the applicable US standard for children’s toys is no more than 60 ppm soluble antimony in paints and coatings. So, the Good Guide’s claim that the Zhu Zhu Pet violated US standards based upon its XRF testing was patently false.
And today the Good Guide admitted that it used the wrong test to compare its results with the US standard. It stands by its results – and they are probably correct for what they are worth. The nose and fur of Mr. Squiggles may well have 93 and 106 ppm total antimony. But the Good Guide also admits that the US standard is for soluble antimony, and that it has no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Squiggles violates any US standard.
And then the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) confirmed that its review of the Zhu Zhu pet found no violation of the US standard for antimony.
Bottom line, it appears that Mr. Squiggles is in full compliance with existing US standards. Now, whether you are concerned about total antimony or not, that is a different question.
But, I’m still upset with the Good Guide and Dr. Dara O’Rourke. Both could have taken the time to have checked the relevant standards, assuming that this wasn’t a calculated effort to gain publicity by targeting the most popular holiday toy. Giving both the benefit of the doubt, I assume that they simply did not check the standard. Which is just amazing given the harm done by releasing these test results. Checking the relevant standard isn’t hard. In fact, it is right on the CPSC’s website for the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in the frequently asked questions.
Moreover, the XRF technician should have advised them as well. I certainly advise my clients how XRF results can be used and the limitations, including explaining the difference between soluble and total results. I can’t imagine that the XRF technician did not know.
So that leads me to believe that this was a calculated stunt – and they got caught. Ultimately, I believe the fallout will be detrimental to all our efforts to reform chemical regulation policy in the US as consumer advocacy groups are branded “eco freaks” with alarmist claims of toxicity? So, Good Guide, was it worth it? If your publicity grabbing stunt means that the Million Baby Crawl is unsuccessful, are you pleased?
But I’m also a little annoyed with Zhu Zhu Pets. CEO of Cepia LLC (manufacturer of Zhu Zhu Pets, Russ Hornsby, derides XRF testing as unsound. That statement is also inaccurate. XRF analysis, as found by the CPSC, is accurate and sound if used properly – for example, it is perfectly acceptable for testing total lead in homogenous plastic as long as the equipment is properly calibrated against a known standard. It is also a very useful screening tool, and is widely used for that purpose, particularly by the CPSC and other regulatory agencies. But, I certainly agree with Cepia that it does NOT accurately measure for soluble concentrations and is not meant for that purpose.