May 1, 2008

Dr. Harry Wang, President of the Sacramento chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, presented testimony and offered rebuttals to toy industry lobbyists as the bill, AB 2694, came before the Assembly Health Committee on April 29th.

The bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, would establish the nation’s toughest ban on lead in children’s products.

With Dr. Wang’s help, the bill, which has been sponsored by CALPIRG and Environment California, passed out of the Assembly Health Committee and heads to the Assembly Floor. Below, please find more information about the bill and the issues it addresses in a press release authored by CALPIRG (California Public Interest Research Group):

Bill to Ban Lead in Children’s Products Passes Assembly Health Committee Today

Following “the Year of the Recall,” AB 2694 (Ma) Would Establish the Nation’s Toughest Ban on Lead in Children’s Products

Today AB 2694, the nation’s toughest ban on lead in children’s products, passed out of the Assembly Health Committee and heads to the Assembly Floor. The bill is authored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and sponsored by CALPIRG and Environment California. As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, AB 2694 would ban on lead in all products intended for children age twelve and under, using a 40ppm standard.

“We’ve known for more than a generation that lead exposure results in significant harm to children’s health, and yet current law still allows for unsafe levels of lead in toys. This bill would follow the doctors’ orders, and ban lead in all children’s products,” said Emily Rusch, CALPIRG Advocate.

There is a very clear link between blood lead concentrations and a drop in IQ in children. Lead exposure also can result in learning disabilities and attention deficits in children. In 2006, a four year old in Minnesota died of lead poisoning after he swallowed a bracelet charm that contained 99 percent lead. However, even trace amounts of lead can pose a safety risk to young children, since lead accumulates in the body and children absorb lead much more readily than adults do. An estimated 310,000 children in the United States between 1-5 years old have levels of lead in their blood that could be harmful to their health. AB 2694 would significantly lower the allowable amount of lead in paint on toys (from 600 ppm to 40ppm), and also extend the ban to other components of children’s products not covered by current law.