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Lead Paint in Toys: Mattel Fined $2.3M

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By David Goguen on June 05, 2009 2:08 PM

Mattel Inc., the world's largest toy maker, has been fined $2.3 million by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for importing toys that violated federal laws banning lead paint in consumer products. The landmark fine is tied to lead paint violations that prompted the recall of millions of Mattel and Fisher-Price toys in 2007.

In 2007, about 95 Mattel and Fisher-Price toys -- including the "Sarge" car and a number of Barbie toys -- were found to be in violation of a 1978 federal law prohibiting toys from containing more than .06 percent lead in their paint or surface coatings. More than 2 million affected toys were recalled nationwide.

The $2.3 million fine announced today by the CPSC resolves charges that Mattel and Fisher-Price knowingly violated the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act by importing those toys, which were manufactured in China. As part of the agreement, Mattel and Fisher-Price deny that they knowingly violated the law.

In a Press Release announcing the agreement, CPSC Acting Chairman Thomas Moore said "This penalty should serve notice to toy makers that CPSC is committed to the safety of children, to reducing their exposure to lead, and to the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act."

In December, Mattel and the attorneys general of 39 states reached a civil settlement in which the toy maker agreed to pay $12 million over the 2007 toy recalls and the resulting consumer scare over excessive levels of lead in children's toys.