Toys sold online by major retailers contain 'high levels'

A US study has identified high levels of lead in four fidget spinner toys, bought online at Walmart and Amazon.

One fidget spinner, sold at Walmart.com, contained a part that was found to be over 400 times the legal limit.

The study carried out by Fox6 News used a third-party facility to test ten fidget spinners for lead.

With a few exceptions, federal law requires that all children’s products manufactured after August 2011 contain no more than 100 parts per million (ppm) total lead content in all accessible parts.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the government body that has authority to recall toys, defines accessible parts as those that a child could reach through "normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse of the product".

Fox6 found three fidget spinners that contained excessive levels of lead from Amazon:

  • the first contained a pin 38,151ppm lead content;
  • second: arms 38,308ppm, a centre 10,370ppm and pin 14,731ppm;
  • third: arms 44,827ppm, a centre 17,241ppm and pin 34,875ppm.

The spinner from Walmart.com contained:

  • arms 34,510ppm lead content, centre 28,048ppm and pin 10,086ppm.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all products intended for use by children contain no more than trace amounts of lead, defined as 40ppm.

A Walmart spokesperson told Chemical Watch: "We take all reports of product safety seriously. Once this was brought to our attention, we removed the item, which was sold by a third-party seller on our marketplace, from our site and notified the seller."

The company is investigating how the item was allowed to go on sale. 

An Amazon spokesperson did not comment on the study, but said: "Safety is among our highest priorities. We want customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon.com. All fidget spinners currently sold on Amazon must comply with testing standards for toys for children ages 3 and up."

'Invisible poison'

In a press release the NGO, US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) said that lead could be found in imported toys and is "particularly damaging for young children because of its impact on development. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to undermine IQ, attentiveness and academic achievement."

It called for the CPSC to perform testing on fidget spinners for lead and recall products that contain high levels.

"It’s nearly impossible for consumers to tell if their fidget spinner has high levels of lead since it’s an invisible poison, so the CPSC should step up and test these products since it has the authority to recall them," the press release reads.

It also said that companies manufacturing and selling lead-tainted fidget spinners should be held accountable, which would send "a message to other companies".

Karla Crosswhite of the CPSC said the agency was reviewing the Fox6 report.

She added: "The federal regulations for lead apply to children’s products that are primarily intended for children 12 years of age and younger.  Most fidget spinners are general use products, unless they are primarily intended for children 12 years of age and younger."

But Dev Gowda of US PIRG said that fidget spinners are routinely sold in toy stores and in the toy sections of major retailers.

"The CPSC should treat fidget spinners as a children's product, further investigate lead in them, and take appropriate action against manufacturers if they contain high levels," he said.