WASHINGTON — Greenpeace is charging that hazardous levels of lead are found in PVC toys, but the federal regulatory agency that cracked down on vinyl miniblinds last year is saying its tests have not found problems.
The Oct. 9 Greenpeace report said that almost 20 percent of the 131 toys it tested had lead above the standard recommended by staff of the Consumer Product Safety Commission when it addressed miniblinds last year.
But CPSC said the same standard cannot be applied to toys because the blinds constantly were exposed to sunlight, freeing up the lead that was floating as a stabilizer in the products.
``A miniblind is in the window 24 hours a day, seven days a week, getting tremendous exposure to heat and light,'' said CPSC spokeswoman Kathleen Begala. ``A backpack is in a closet. It may be on a child's back for 15 minutes.''
Greenpeace officials said CPSC did incomplete tests on only 11 products, and should have tested them for exposure to sunlight because some of the products, including backpacks, raingear, tent poles and beach gear, are intended for outdoor use. Lead dust was also found on a handful of products right out of the package, Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace officials could not be reached, but said in a statement that ``it would appear highly imprudent to dismiss these children's products as significant sources ... without first at least conducting sunlight exposure tests.''
Begala said CPSC decided not to test for sunlight exposure because the products are not subject to repeated direct sunlight. CPSC tested other outdoor products after the vinyl miniblinds action last year and did not find any release of lead from outdoor plastic furniture and toys designed to be left outside, she said.
Greenpeace also said it found cadmium in products at levels that exceed the standard set by California's Proposition 65, which requires labeling of products that contain toxic chemicals above specified levels. CPSC said eight of the 11 items it tested had only traces of cadmium, while one did not have likely exposure and testing on two others is incomplete.
CPSC tested 11 items that Greenpeace said contained high levels of lead, and found no lead or only trace amounts in seven. CPSC found that exposure was not likely on two of the remaining items, and testing on two others is incomplete. An incomplete test means the items could not be located or the tests are not finished, Begala said.