Pediatricians urge review of heavy metals in kids' products

Two years after Congress passed a law setting comprehensive limits on lead in children's products, the government needs to address other heavy metals in such products, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) testified Thursday morning.

As a result of lead limits established by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, manufacturers have begun adding cadmium, a known carcinogenic, to children's products, said Dr. H. Garry Gardner before a Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection.

"This is clearly a case of abiding by the letter but not the spirit of the law — Congress hardly intended for companies to substitute one poison for another," Gardner said.

The AAP recommended that eight heavy metals in American Society for Testing and Materials's voluntary toy safety standards should undergo rigorous review by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Any standards issued as part of the review should apply to all children's products and not just toys, the AAP said.

The AAP also asked the CPSC to consider requirements for secure closures on devices containing small, powerful magnets that can result in major damage to the esophagus and possibly death. Nearly 8,700 "button battery" incidents were reported between 1990 and 2008, of which 62 percent involved children under the age of six, Gardner testified.