Report: High levels of lead found in fidget spinners sold at Target

(Photo: WPRI)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) and the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG) issued a warning to parents Thursday that fidget spinners being sold at Target stores nationwide were found to have high levels of lead.

MASSPIRG said they alerted the toy’s distributor, Bulls i Toy, and Target to the findings, but they “refused to address the problem.”

The agency said lab results showed two fidget spinners contained extremely high levels of lead, well over the federal legal limit of 100 parts per million (ppm) for lead in children’s products:

  • Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass: the center circle tested for 33,000 parts per million of lead
  • Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal: the center circle tested for 1,300 parts per million of lead

MASSPIRG said the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will not hold these fidget spinners to federal lead standards applicable to toys because they only consider a fidget spinner a toy if it is labeled for 12 or under. Target and Bulls i Toy defend their inaction by pointing to the CPSC’s declaration that fidget spinners aren’t technically “children’s products” subject to legal limits for lead.

“Saying fidget spinners aren’t toys defies common sense, as millions of parents whose kids play with spinners can tell you,” said Deirdre Cummings, Consumer Program Director for the MASSPIRG Education Fund. “The CPSC, Target, and Bulls i Toy need to acknowledge the obvious, that all fidget spinners are toys.”

Cummings said MASSPIRG is calling for Target to stop selling the toys that contain the high levels of lead and issue a recall for the fidget spinners already sold.

“All fidget spinners have play value as children’s toys regardless of age labeling,” Cummings added. “The buck has to stop with someone. CPSC stands for the Consumer Product Safety Commission and now is the time for it to stand up for consumers. We can’t sit idly by while children play with these toxic toys and yes, common sense dictates that these are toys.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that any amount of lead in a child’s blood is unsafe. Lead exposure is particularly damaging for young children because of its impact on development. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to undermine IQ, attentiveness and academic achievement.

Here is a list of safety tips for fidget spinners from the CPSC:

Fidget spinners and children:

  • Keep fidget spinners away from children under 3 years of age.
  • The plastic and metal spinners have small pieces that can be a choking hazard. Choking incidents involving children up to age 14 have been reported.
  • “Light up” fidget spinners may come with button or lithium coin cell batteries. These batteries are an ingestion risk for children and the larger lithium coin cells can lead to severe burns in the esophagus
  • Warn children of all ages not to put fidget spinners or small pieces in their mouths and not to play with the fidget spinner near their faces.

Rechargable battery-operated fidget spinners:

  • Be present when products with batteries are charging.
  • Never charge a product with batteries overnight while you are sleeping.
  • Unplug your fidget spinner immediately once it is fully charged. If there is no indicator showing a full charge, unplug after one hour.
  • Always use the cable that came with the fidget spinner.
  • If the fidget spinner did not come with a cable, make sure the cable you use is undamaged and has the correct connections for charging.
  • Have working smoke alarms in your house to protect you if there is a fire.

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