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China Scares Me

I’m not xenophobic by any means, I studied Japanese, I lived the cosmopolitan life, both cities and drinks, but I am terrified of China. Not the people or the economics or threat to any Olympic medal count. I’m worried about the toys.

I didn’t even realize how worried I was until I gave Penelope some bubbles made in China. I had bought them at some no-name store simply because she wanted them. When I opened the bottle at the park, the liquid inside was gummy. I let her use them but I hovered. I made sure not one drop touched her lips. I was picturing those bubbles being made in the wee hours at an assembly line that usually handled nuclear reprocessing materials.

I watched her like a hawk when she put the wand up to her lips and was only too happy when she accidentally spilled out all the liquid like I knew she would. Thankfully, it wasn’t mommy being mean that made that happen. She couldn’t hear the prayers in my head that precisely that would happen.

I immediately pulled out the wipies and cleaned her off, mouth and hands. And I kept revisiting the spot to see if any rubber of the playground floor had melted away.

Dear Countries That Have Stringent Overseeing, put a big label on your toys. I for one would GLADLY pay extra for toys that are safe. Faster then I’d spend extra dollars to get a little polo player on my child’s shirts for sure.

China scares me. Why did I pick on them? They’re the ones that sold deliberately tainted baby formula and then chocolate with melamine. And they were the epicenter of the Mattel scandal of 2007, making toys with lead paint how long after it’s been globally known that it’s a no-no. And now there’s a new study by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences published in April of this year reporting the widespread use of brominated fire retardant chemicals in Chinese-made children’s toys. Yep, your child might as well be chewing on the vacuum cleaner hose.

China’s the one that also killed a lot of our dogs and cats with melamine.

But I’m reasonable, I’m willing to compromise. 80% of our toys are now made in China. So here’s my suggestion: I want my toys to come with the label like the one on food that warns, “Made in a Plant that Processes Peanuts”. My label suggestion: These Toys were Made in a Factory that Processed Lead Toys that are No Longer Allowed to be Exported but We Make Them for Our Kids and We Don’t Scour the Factory Down Between Runs. That way I can make my own educated decision. And, yes, the law provision is for exports only. So for anyone taking a trip to China, I’d not recommend bringing home toys for the kids. The “all I got was this stupid t-shirt” t-shirt ranks higher on my list than brain damage.

They should also be required to have the equivalent of the mandatory rabbi in the kosher factory, a white-gloved, third-party independent mother factory overseer that nags until they clean up every lead speck.

Toys should be fun!

Link to the new study I mention up top:

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es9004834

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