WASHINGTON -- The distributor of the popular Thomas & Friends children's toys has agreed to pay a $1.25 million settlement for importing and selling toys that contained lead levels above legal limits. The Consumer Product Safety Commission charged that RC2 Corp. of Illinois and subsidiary Learning Curb Brands Inc. knowingly imported and sold Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys that had "paints or other surface coatings" containing lead levels above 0.06% by weight from China.
RC2 denied it intentionally violated federal law. In 2007, the company reported that more than two dozen styles of vehicles, buildings and other train set components were found to contain lead levels that violated the 1978 ban. The CPSC says that prompted a recall beginning June 2007, which got the attention of Congress. Last year, lawmakers passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which lowered the legal lead levels of toys.
"The highly publicized recall of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys was a catalyst for Congressional action aimed at strengthening CPSC and making the lead-in-paint limits under federal law even stricter," said CPSC chairman Inez Tenenbaum.
Although the allegations and eventual civil settlement do not relate directly to products sold through bulk vending machines, industry watchers say the case demonstrates that the CPSC remains vigilant in its pursuit of imports that don't comply with safety standards.