Consumer Testing Spurs Toy Recalls

The Times brings us the story of vigilant consumers who successfully drove regulatory agencies to yank dangerous toys from store shelves. We have argued, along with the CPSC, that consumer testing is an utter waste of time, but consumers who are willing to bring their suspicious toys to a professional lab are able to have a surprising impact.

Mr. Stone and his daughter Montana began their testing nine months ago after Montana heard news reports about lead in children’s jewelry. She asked her father about the safety of the jewelry she had received as favors at birthday parties.

Mr. Stone, 68, used a lead testing process that he usually uses on deer carcasses to test for bullets in New York. (It is illegal in some circumstances to shoot deer with guns rather than bow and arrow.)

Mr. Stone found that more than half of his daughter’s jewelry tested positive. Soon, the Stones bought 75 more pieces of jewelry in stores near their home in Albany. Of those, 56 pieces contained more than 0.06 percent lead, the federal limit, and some were half lead, Mr. Stone said, adding that he plans to continue testing children’s jewelry even after the recall.

Mr. Stone works in an agency of New York state government unrelated to the attorney general, but he took his test results to Mr. Cuomo’s office last February. Mr. Cuomo then started an investigation of children’s jewelry sold in the state, including additional testing.

If you do try to engage a government agency, don’t expect a fast response or a thank-you.

“As an individual, it’s like a voice screaming in the wilderness. It’s hard to be heard,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, a nonprofit organization in Washington. “Bureaucracies are not really set up to listen to the public.”

Citizen Vigilance Leads to Toy Recalls [NYT]
(Photo: azrainman)


Edit Your Comment

  1. spinachdip says:

    I think we can reasonably conclude that it’s the testing that causes lead paint and other safety defects.


    “Bureaucracies are not really set up to listen to the public.”

    Great! well what can one expect from a system of administration marked by officialism and red tape.

    Good for Mr. Stone.

  3. Namilia says:

    That phrase bears repeating:

    Bureaucracies are not really set up to listen to the public.

    This government and its bureaucracies are supposed to be for “we the people”…if they are not set up to listen to the people, then who are they set up for, and in who’s interests? It seems an extraneous amount of red tape needs to be snipped into oblivion.

    Good for Mr. Stone, I am glad that he is seeing some results for his hard work :)

  4. Sam says:

    Montana Stone? Really?

  5. elisa says:

    I love the family of Smokey the Bears. Only YOU can prevent forest fires! (and, apparently, lead in toys).

  6. Roundonbothends says:

    Little Smokeys carry guns?

  7. trollkiller says:

    @Roundonbothends: Yes they do so you better put out that camp fire properly.

  8. ToadKillerDog says:

    I urge you to never ever post a picture again unless it is this brilliant! It makes me proud, once again, to be an American.

    Topic? What topic?

  9. BobbyMike says:

    Ward Stone is famous in upstate for his very vigorous work for the DEC (NYs Department of Environmental Conservation). He can be very abrasive, but you can’t fault his commitment.

  10. Myron says:

    @spinachdip: Awesome! I think the Bush administration has a job for you.

  11. stubblyhead says:

    Papa Bear’s shirt is from the other side of the looking glass.

  12. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    (It is illegal in some circumstances to shoot deer with guns rather than bow and arrow.)…Yes which is why there are seasons for hunting. Bow season, rifle season, black powder season.