Panel Votes to Lower Toy Lead Limits

A Consumer Product Safety Commission panel voted Wednesday to lower the allowable levels of lead in toys made for children under 12.  The new standard, which takes effect next month, will require toys to be 99.99 percent lead-free, compared to the current standard of 99.97 percent.

Proponents say there's no known safe level of lead, which can cause irreversible brain damage, learning disabilities, and other problems such as aggressive behavior. With its vote, the agency decided that it is "technologically feasible'' for manufacturers in the United States and overseas to make products that meet the lower lead standard.

"As a result of the commission's decision today, consumers can rest assured that lead should be virtually nonexistent in toys and other children's products,'' said commission chairwomen Inez Tenenbaum, a Democrat.

The panel's Republicans, Nancy Nord and Anne Northup, criticized the decision, saying the amount of allowable lead is essentially trace levels.

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