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May 3, 2007

JPMA Says Nothing Wrong With Wal-Mart's Vinyl Bibs Of Death

vinyl_bibs_of_lead.jpgYou know when I started to be unnerved about some kind of safety risk involving the lead in vinyl-coated bibs?

When I got a press release from the JPMA titled, "JPMA Notes CPSC Declaration that Vinyl Bibs Are Safe: Inaccuracies Needlessly Unnerve Parents."

Here's what the CPSC announced: "CPSC Warns About Worn Vinyl Baby Bibs"

The full text of the press release is below, but the gist is, some vinyl bibs contain lead, which can be hazardous if a kid mouths, gnaws on, or swallows part of a cracked or worn bib. Their recommendation: throw out bibs when they crack or show signs of wear.

And the background is, Illinois tested vinyl bibs manufactured exclusively for Wal-Mart and found they contained lead at levels up to 16 times that allowed in paint. Lead is sometimes added as a stabilizer to PVC, though it's apparently easily replaced by other compounds, which you'd think someone would think to do when manufacturing an infant product.

The lead-laced bibs were apparently sold as far back as 2004, which coincides with the reorganization and downsizing of the bibs' manufacturer, Crown Crafts, and the company's decision to move all its production to China. Crown Crafts and its accessories subsidiary, Hamco produce licensed merchandise for Disney [Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Baby Einstein], Sesame Street, Bright Inspirations [?? the Praying Lamb guys?], and NASCAR.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff today warned that there is a potential risk of lead exposure from baby bibs with cracked or peeling vinyl surfaces. This consumer alert applies only to used bibs that are worn or have deteriorated. Pieces of vinyl containing lead could pose a hazard to infants if they are swallowed. CPSC staff recommends that parents and caregivers discard bibs that are in poor condition to avoid any potential exposure to lead from swallowed vinyl.

Some vinyl materials, including those used as the front or back of baby bibs, contain lead (Pb) compounds as part of their formulation. Acting on information provided by and in cooperation with the New York and Illinois Attorney Generals’ Offices, CPSC recently tested a wide range of bibs from various retailers nationwide.

The CPSC staff’s risk assessment concludes that none of the bibs that were tested at CPSC’s laboratory would pose a risk of substantial illness to children from mouthing. However, if the condition of a vinyl bib deteriorates to the point that a baby could pull or bite off and swallow a piece of vinyl containing lead, then the amounts of lead consumed could approach levels of concern.

CPSC staff therefore advises parents and caregivers to stop using vinyl bibs in such condition. In the CPSC staff’s view, this step could effectively prevent any significant risk of exposure to lead from these products. This precaution would also protect infants from the risk of choking on loose pieces of vinyl.

CPSC takes the issue of lead exposure very seriously, as lead is toxic and if ingested by young children can cause adverse health effects, such as learning disabilities, behavioral problems, growth retardation and hearing problems. There have been no reported injuries involving these bibs.

Vinyl baby bibs have been sold through major retailers since at least 2004. They range in price from $2 to $7 and come in packs of up to ten. The bibs come in colorful designs and have either a vinyl front with a cloth backing or a cloth front with vinyl backing.

Manufacturers and retailers, in cooperation with the CPSC and the New York and Illinois Attorneys General, plan to develop clear and effective guidelines addressing the use of vinyl in children’s products.

CPSC Warns About Worn Vinyl Baby Bibs [cpsc.gov]
Baby bibs sold at Wal-Mart recalled [yahoo/ap via dt reader sara]
Vinyl Baby Bibs Are Safe [jpma.org]

posted May 3, 2007 4:02 PM | add to del.icio.us | digg this


"which you'd think someone would think to do when manufacturing an infant product"

Sure, you and I would think that, but a Chinese factory manager would think that the lead-based stabilizer is two cents a gallon cheaper, and use that instead. Anybody doing business in Asia needs to have their own independent QC people on the ground, and they need to test everything. I don't know if it's an Asian mindset in general, or just a factory manager mindset, but as a rule, even the best factories will cut corners anywhere they can, without consultation, and without considering anything but the most immediate consequences. It's a lesson Menu Foods has just learned the hard way.

posted by: Scott at May 3, 2007 10:46 PM

Did someone just ask if China will do anything to make money?

And, don't forget about the fake baby formula incident. Here's a Washington Post article on how China doesn't really care:

I don't know if it is an Asian problem. I think it is more of a profit problem. I think US/European companies would do the same things if they didn't have fear of lawsuits. Personally, I think Walmart just turns a blind eye and goes with the cheapest supplier. Then if something goes wrong, they plead ignorance and pass the blame.

posted by: Kirk at May 4, 2007 5:38 PM

Eh.. it's so much easier to just undress the kid before they eat. Bibs always seemed to make an even bigger mess with my babes.

posted by: Amy at May 7, 2007 2:14 PM

These bibs were made in China and there have been a lot of problems with products coming from China including poisoned/contaminated toothpaste, mouthwash, and pet food. However, what really surprised me is that when I bought boxes of Juicy Juice from Target for my toddler that it said "Product of China" on the clear plastic wrap in very small print. Chinese people living in the U.S. don't like eating or drinking stuff from China. Take it from me - I'm Chinese and most of my Chinese friends say the same thing.

posted by: eugene at June 9, 2007 2:30 AM
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