The recall of Thomas the Tank Engine toys, as well as other recent recalls, reminds us that our children will never be safe until children are safe globally from harmful products in their toys. A recent opinion article in the New York Times by Christian Warren speaks to this issue. "The Little Engine That Could Poison" reminds us that the important lessons to be learned from these recalls is not only about the protection our own children, but "regulating environmental poisons in the global economy".
With the majority of products consumers purchase being manufactured overseas, the incidence of "accidental" contamination will continue. As Warren writes, "It is important to do what we can to prevent the import of dangerous toys. But it is at least as important to help our international partners curtail the use of lead and other toxic substances in their own markets. Lax product safety and environmental regulation overseas undoubtedly lowers manufacturing costs there, but it also perpetuates the risk to our children and guarantees harmful exposure to both workers and children in countries that continue using lead as blithely as we once did." Lead is very dangerous stuff that causes irreversible damage in humans.
No family anywhere in the world should have to suffer from the effects of this known poison, especially in an effort to produce cheap products for the world market. As a world power, we need to do something to extinguish this hazard globally. We have some protection in this country, despite President Bush slashing of the Consumer Product Safety Commission budget by 10%, yet our children are still exposed to lead in their toys. Who knows how many children throughout the world play with lead tainted toys?