McGraw

CHARLESTON -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office will receive $204,000 by Jan. 30 from a settlement reached with toy manufacturers Mattel and Fisher Price.

West Virginia was one of 38 states to participate in the $12 million settlement, which was reached Dec. 15.

The state's portion of the money will be placed in a consumer protection trust and will be used toward consumer protection and education, said Kim Stitzinger-Jones, assistant attorney general.

The lawsuit was brought against Mattel and Fisher Price after they voluntarily recalled millions of units of toys containing excessive lead in their surface paint in 2007.

"Those toys posed a risk of injury to children who swallowed or placed the toys in their mouths," a news release from McGraw's office states. "Exposure to lead causes lead to accumulate in the body over time."

Children who are exposed to toys with lead face an increased chance that they will have more lead in their bodies.

The more lead in their bodies, the greater the chance children will suffer neurological problems, including lower IQ levels, Stitzinger-Jones said.

Higher levels of lead in a child's body can lead to seizures, coma or even death, she said.

During the recalls last year, McGraw's office offered West Virginians the opportunity to have the paint on their toys tested to determine if the lead levels in the paint were illegal.

No toy is supposed to have more than 600 parts per million, Stitzinger-Jones said.

However, Fisher Price and Mattel were found to have toys that exceeded that rate, she said.

Since then, it has been discovered that even 600 parts per million is too much, and new federal legislation will require companies to reduce the amount of lead in toys to 90 parts per million, Stitzinger-Jones said.

As part of the settlement, Mattel and Fisher Price will be required to reduce the amount of lead in their toys to 90 parts per million by February 2009, which is before the legislation takes effect.

"They're definitely stepping up the time table," Stitzinger-Jones said.

Both companies will also have to monitor where the paint and parts that make each toy originate, according to terms in the settlement. That way, if a problem is found, it will be easier to determine which toys are affected, Stitzinger-Jones said.

Should a toy with excessive lead happen to be found, Mattel and Fisher Price must notify the Attorney General's office within three days of the discovery.

The settlement is excellent for parents who won't have to worry as much about the amount of lead in their children's toys, Stitzinger-Jones said.

"When my child goes to school, I don't necessarily know – is there lead paint at the school?" she said. "The more reduction we have in lead, the better."

The settlement provides protection to the children in West Virginia, McGraw said in a news release.

"We have to ensure the health of our children is not endangered by their toys," he said.

Other states involved in the settlement include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

There is a chance some parents missed last year's toy recall and could still have some of the products in their homes, Stitzinger-Jones said.

To find out if a toy is one of the recalled ones, either visit Mattel and Fisher Prices Web site and look up the serial number or call the attorney general's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-368-8808.

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