Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Bendable toy poses potential health threat

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Friday, August 18, 2006

PALMER-Parents of children who got a bendable toy in summer reading programs at public libraries across the state are asked to return the toy because of its possible health threat.

The plastic toys are bendable dogs and cats, which might contain unsafe levels of lead. The company that supplies the toys to libraries, Highsmith Inc., recently issued a voluntary recall of the product. The toys are not hazardous to touch. Officials are concerned that children might chew on and swallow part of the toy.

The State Department of Health and Social Services issued a consumer health alert today, Aug. 10. The alert stated that about 2,400 toys were obtained by about 72 libraries in Alaska. It is not known how many toys may have already been given away to children. The toys were also given out in 30 other states.

Locally, the five Matanuska-Susitna Borough libraries and the two city libraries received the bendable toys from the state program. Not all of them gave out the toys however. Librarians were busy alerting the public. Some called lists of parents and posted recall alerts on Web sites and at the libraries. Here's a rough breakdown of the toys that were handed out from each library. Sutton Library:1; Talkeetna Library: about 12; Willow Library 10-22; Big Lake Library: 72; Trapper Creek Library: 0. For the city libraries, Palmer Library: 323; Wasilla Public Library: 231.

State public health officials advise parents whose children have the toys to return them to the library where they were obtained. Do not throw the toys away. Local libraries will send them to a central collection facility for safe disposal.

The rubbery toys are roughly four inches long, with round heads and long bendable arms and legs. They come in various colors. See attached photo. The lead levels ranged from 0.24 to 0.4 percent lead. The Code of Federal Regulations stipulates that lead may constitute no more than 0.06 percent of the weight of the paint applied to a toy.

For more information contact Barbra Holian with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. (907) 465-8116. The state's press release is attached.