The Los Angeles Times reported on August 31, 2007 that 58% of American consumers are “not at all” or “not too much” confident that Chinese–made products they buy are safe. More compelling is that a study by eBeanstalk found that 30% of moms surveyed said that they will not buy any goods manufactured in China.
Safety standards do exist for toys imported into the U.S. Under federal law, total lead in paints and other coatings used on toys cannot exceed 600 parts per million (ppm) total lead. But, as is clear from the recent recalls, toys with coatings with higher lead concentrations are making their way onto toy shelves.
Also, lead may be present in toys made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. Lead is sometimes used as a stabilizer in PVC (without a metallic salt such as lead compounds, PVC would break down and lose its strength). Lead can migrate to the surface and be picked up by children, especially those that engage in mouthing activities (putting their hands or any objects into their mouths).
So, what can a parent do? It is hard to know what to do. You would expect that the toys on the shelves would be safe. But, as is abundantly clear, some of them are not.
Now that holiday season is just around the corner, are there any toys NOT made in China? Yes. There are some options out there. A few are listed here, and I’ll add more. With very limited exceptions, Playmobil of Germany is not manufactured in China. The exceptions – a few electronics part, like the flashing police light. (Although Playmobil did have a recall for lead paint in 1982 with parts made by an American contractor).
Less than 3% of Lego's production comes from China.
What about some other alternatives? For a variety of toys, try ImagiPlay, Nova Natural Toys & Crafts or Natural Pod. For tea sets, sand play sets, and cookware and dining sets, try the bioplastic (yes, they are made of corn!) toys at Green Toys. For wood trains, try Whittle Shortline Railroad advertises itself as using lead free paints. As a bonus, its toy trains are compatible with Thomas™ and Brio©. Oompa toys is a great source for a variety European made toys. The website eBeanstalk advertises that all of its learning toys adhere to or exceed American and European safety standards.