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December 15, 2008

Mattel Pays $12 Million to States in Settlement Concerning Lead Paint in Toys

Mattel and subsidiary Fisher-Price also agree to stringent standards for lead in toys. Iowa’s share of the payment is $213,948.

Mattel, Inc., and its subsidiary Fisher-Price, Inc., have agreed with 39 states to stringent standards for lead paint in toys manufactured after Nov. 30, 2008. Mattel also is paying a total of $12 million to the states, including $213,948 to Iowa.

Mattel and Fisher-Price voluntarily recalled over 2 million toys from August to October last year for excessive lead levels in surface paints. The toys were made in China.

Since the State Attorneys General first contacted Mattel in August 2007, Congress enacted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) with tighter standards for lead in surface coatings and substrates. Mattel agreed with the states to phase in more stringent standards, ahead of the timeline provided by the federal Act.

Mattel also agreed to notify the states, and consumers, if it confirms excessive lead in any of its products in violation of state or federal law or the agreement with states. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is not aware of any current issues with excessive lead levels in Mattel or Fisher-Price toys.

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More background and details:

Mattel, Inc., has headquarters at El Segundo, CA, and its subsidiary Fisher-Price, Inc., has headquarters at East Aurora, NY.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office simultaneously filed a lawsuit petition today in Polk County District Court in Des Moines, and a Consent Judgment or agreement with Mattel resolving the matter, which was approved by District Court Judge D.J. Stovall.

Iowa’s lawsuit cited the importance of the issue of lead in paint: “Lead is highly toxic, particularly to young children. . . . Even small amounts of lead can cause serious neurological damage, including drops in IQ and, in the long term, behavioral problems. . . . One of the sources of exposure to lead is products or pieces of products containing lead which young children can mouth or swallow. . .”

At the time of Mattel’s voluntary recalls last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard for lead permitted in “accessible surface coatings” was 600 parts per million. Lead levels taken of the recalled toys during the course of the states’ 16-month investigation included levels that in some instances tested over 10,000 ppm and 50,000 ppm.

Thirty-nine states participated in the agreement: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, ID, IA, KS, KY, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, VT, WA, WV, WI, and WY.


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