Thursday, November 8, 2007

Yet Another Scary Recall

I am taking a break from my usually scheduled program to make sure everyone has heard of yet another toy recall. Is it good news that this recall has nothing to do with lead? Well, seven additional recalls were announced yesterday relating to lead paint in toys, so toys made with paint containing lead need not worry that their 15 minutes are coming to an end.

The recall I am focusing on is the Aqua Dots recall. Have you heard about this? Children ingested the Aqua Dots and became unconscious. Turns out, a chemical used to make the Aqua Dots turns into gamma hydroxy butyrate, AKA the date rape drug. This recall disturbs me on so many levels.

First, this is another recall of toys that have originated in China. A note to US toy companies: Until a consistent and reliable way to monitor the safety of toys coming from China is implemented, assume toys from China are not safe. Time to ramp up US manufacturing operations.

Second, the name of the toys is Aqua Dots (my emphasis). When I see the word aqua, I think of water. To me the name of the toy implies water dots. How can anything named water dots be dangerous? Why would parents ever think that anything named water dots would have a chemical that turns into gamma hydroxyl butyrate when ingested?

And, third, did the toy manufacturers not foresee these water dots being ingested by kids? They made them small enough so not to be a choking hazard, so they must have suspected this may happen. After all, they are made of water (so the name implies) and are little round balls that most likely look very appetizing to some youngsters.

To be fair, I have never looked at the Aqua Dots package. This toy was on my sons’ Christmas list but we had yet to buy it. The packaging might have all kinds of warnings such as “Not meant to be eaten,” or “This is not candy.” But, honestly, do warnings on packages really stop kids from tasting something if they really, really want to try it?

So, that puts toy companies in a quandary. They can’t very well test their product on kids during manufacture to see if 1) they will eat the product and 2) whether or not eating the product will cause some horrific medical emergency. What to do, what to do. I know – have the scientists that you use to determine what went wrong after kids are hurt study the product before it goes to market. I find it hard to believe that chemists would not have been able to study the chemical in question prior to the toy going to market and predict what was going to happen. That’s what chemists do – they study the reactions and interactions between various chemicals and materials and determine what byproducts, impurities, and new chemicals are produced as part of the reaction or mixture.

But, what if the toy companies did not know that this particular chemical was used in the manufacture of the Aqua Dots in China? Then shame on them. They are not doing enough to protect American consumers and children.

US toy companies are learning this lesson the hard way. They are losing costumers. They are losing income. But the lesson is being learned at the expense of the safety of our children. I would like to know – was it worth the money saved by outsourcing manufacture and not implementing a substantial program of regulation and monitoring? I think they will learn this lesson again this Christmas when parents, like me, think twice before buying that toy with the Made In… label.

We have been lucky at my house. We only have had one toy included in the lead paint recall. The worst thing that happened to us was a few shed tears when we took the toy away from Luke. But I don’t want to be scared every time I buy a toy for one of my sons. If they are going to get hurt from a toy, it should be the normal way like getting hit in the head with it when their brother throws it at them.

Here is the information released by the CPSC on the recall:

Spin Master Recalls Aqua Dots - Children Became Unconscious After Swallowing Beads

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Aqua Dots

Units: About 4.2 million

Distributor: Spin Master, of Toronto, Canada

Hazard: The coating on the beads that causes the beads to stick to each other when water is added contains a chemical that can turn toxic when many are ingested. Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression, or have seizures.
Incidents/Injuries: CPSC has received two reports over the past several days of children swallowing Aqua Dots. A 20-month-old child swallowed several dozen beads. He became dizzy and vomited several times before slipping into a comatose state for a period of time, was hospitalized, and has since fully recovered. A second child also vomited and slipped into a comatose state and was hospitalized for five days.

Description: The recalled toy is a craft kit which allows children to create various multi-dimensional designs using small colored beads. The beads fuse together when sprayed with water. The recall applies to all models of Aqua Dots. The product is available in various different kits with accessories such as a drying fan, applicator pen, design templates for the beads, and spray bottle. The product is labeled for ages 4+.

Sold at: Mass merchandisers nationwide from April 2007 through November 2007 for between $17 and $30.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled toy away from children and contact Spin Master to return for free replacement beads or a toy of equal value.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Spin Master at (800) 622-8339 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's Web site at
To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including a picture of the recalled products, please go to:


Anonymous said...

That is crazy!!! I was thinking of getting that for my niece for Christmas- not anymore!

Unknown said...

I think I'm going to stick with hand-made or American made products for a while. It may make gift-buying (or making) a little more difficult, but I think it may be worth it when you weigh the odds. Scary stuff!

Kellan said...

It is crazy all this toy recall stuff! Crazy and frightening. Good post - see ya.

Unknown said...

I was certainly floored when I read your info concerning the aqua dots.
When do you think the American People are going to wake up? When it affects the politican's kids or grandkids?
I hate to say it, but I am not at all surprised. How much more are we going to buy from China (they are just the starting point). Loads of other countries are right there with China.
We aren't the most loved country in the world, in fact, we are on the opposite pole. We are one of the most hated countries. The US comes across as better than anyone else. Everyone puts their pants on the same way, one leg at a time. I guess we do ours more cool than in other countries.
Sad blog? but needed!!
Give our love to the 3 boys and of course, our talented, beautiful, smart, organized, great mom, etc...
I love you, Sweetheart! Grammy