RC2 Fined $1.25M for Lead-Tainted Thomas the Tank Engine Toys

by | Jan 6, 2010

ThomastheTankEngineThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reached a $1.25 million settlement with Illinois-based toy company RC2, pertaining to the company’s 2007 recall of an estimated 1.7 million Thomas the Tank Engine toys that contained lead levels that exceeded the legal limit, reports Daily Finance.

The tainted Thomas toys violated a 1978 CPSC rule that prohibited the residential use of paint that contained more than 0.06 percent lead by weight, according to Daily Finance.

New rules that went into effect last year hold permissible levels of lead and phthalates to 90 parts per million from the previous 600 parts per million.

From May to September 2007, RC2 reported more than two dozen toy vehicles, buildings and other train set parts, which were imported from China, exceeded legal levels for lead, reports CBS 2 Chicago.

In January 2008, RC2 settled a nationwide class-action lawsuit, agreeing to pay $30 million — in either cash refunds or replacement toys plus a “bonus” toy — to thousands of families who purchased lead-tainted products, reports CBS 2 Chicago.

Mattel also faced several recalls in 2007 due to lead paint and small magnets in children’s toys.

Some CPSC staffers claimed that RC2 was aware of the levels of lead in its products, although RC2 continues to deny those allegations, according to Daily Finance.

In response to the first recalls, RC2 implemented a “Multi-Check Safety System“, which failed to identify a second batch of lead-contaminated Thomas toys that the company subsequently had to recall in September 2007, reports Daily Finance.

Daily Finance reports that the only concrete policy change under the Multi-Check Safety System appears to be “mandatory paint control procedures for contract manufacturers, including certified independent lab test results of every batch of wet paint before the paint is released for production.”

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