Friday, June 15, 2007

Thanks a lot, China.

Recently a whole lot of Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train set stuff has been recalled... mostly red things, some yellow... because they contain lead paint. Yes. Lead paint, in toys for toddlers.

The wooden train sets are my girls' absolute favorite toys, so I have a bunch of stuff to round up and send away: James the Red Engine and his tender, two cabooses, a box car and cargo box, various stop signs and railroad crossing signs. The company says we will be sent replacements and a "free" (oh good!) gift, postage reimbursed, etc. So they're doing The Right Thing.

But what is wrong with China that young children's toys made there (for export at least) are being coated with lead paint? And what is wrong with us*, that we import so much from there, despite every indication that their health, safety and environmental standards are not protective of health, safety or the environment?

I'm just glad I don't have memories of my girls mouthing these toys (their "taste everything" phase didn't last long, and was over when they got into wooden train stuff). I definitely feel for parents who do. Not to mention those that won't hear anything about this.

*Yes, I would rather spend twice as much on a toxin-free caboose.


  1. Just when I finally decided that I accepted the free-trade case on its economic merits, these environmental questions are going to make me a protectionist all over again. There does seem to be very little point to enforcing safety and environmental rules on our own industries when outsourcing the manufacturing effectively circumvents them all.

  2. Yep, it's frustrating.

    The NYTimes business section had an article about the Thomas stuff yesterday, essentially saying the companies that sell Thomas could stand to learn a lot from their product (Thomas stories are usually about fairness, pride going before a fall, correcting your mistakes, that sort of thing.

    We can only hope that a standard Thomas line -- "Luckily, no one was hurt" -- applies, about this recall.

  3. Thanks for the link to the Thomas list. My boy LOVES Thomas and has many of those on the list. I am going home tonight to check those out and take them away. Very disturbing...