On Slate (and elsewhere) today:
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2007, at 6:55 PM ET
The manufacturer of Thomas the Tank Engine trains recalled some of the toys last week after discovering that they were decorated with lead paint. Like many other toys that have been recalled in recent months, the trains were made in China. Don't toys have to pass safety tests before they hit store shelves?
No. Toys sold in America are required by law to meet safety standards, but all presale testing is voluntary. Some of the biggest no-nos—selling a toy that's a choking hazard or using lead paint—are covered by federal laws like the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Child Safety Protection Act. When it comes to other safety matters, the federal government and local governments will often look to the voluntary standards set by ASTM International (originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials).
I take it that USers aren't gonna appreciate higher tariffs on cheap shit we import from China and elsewhere to conduct safety tests. But otherwise th cheap shit will continue to be dangerous.
For the record: NPR reports this morning (6/22) that inspectors did not discover this for at LEAST two years.