Target Stops Selling Valentine’s “Message Bears” After Tests Reveal Excessive Lead Levels

Target has stopped selling some Valentine’s Day toys today after tests revealed <"">lead levels that violated federal law for products for children under age 12. California Attorney General Jerry Brown had asked Target the pull the Valentine’s Day “Message Bears” after his office was informed of the tests results.

The action involves two “Message Bears.” One is a pink stuffed bear with “XOXO” across the chest and the other a brown stuffed bear with “I Love U” across the chest, with “love” represented by a heart. The bears were made in China and sold exclusively by Target stores.

Earlier this week, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced that its tests of the “Message Bears” found that the inflated vinyl Valentine’s Day love messages (eg, “I love U”) the bears were carrying had lead levels that were nearly 10 times higher than what is allowed under federal law. This prompted Brown’s office to send a letter to Target requesting a recall of the toys.

A spokesperson for Target told the Associated Press that the retailer has received that letter, and is conducting an internal investigation. The officials said Target is removing the toy bears from shelves as well as hard-locking them at the registers.

Lead poisoning is considered the greatest environmental health threat to children under the age of six. Poisoning occurs from swallowing lead, for instance from consuming lead paint chips; lead poisoning also occurs from breathing lead paint dust. Most noteworthy, children under the age of six face these great risks because their growing bodies absorb lead more easily than adult bodies do.

In children and fetuses, lead exposure can cause brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. Experts agree that there is no safe level of lead.

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