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In the second of a two-part series, NewsHour economic correspondent Paul Solman continues his report on the safety of toys sold in the United States, now focusing on the regulatory agencies intended to safeguard consumers.
Finally tonight, the second of two reports on toxic toys. Last week, economics correspondent Paul Solman looked at lead levels. Tonight, he focuses on who's in charge of testing for tainted toys.
In Rochester, New York, Judy Braiman, grandmother of eight, holiday shopping. But Braiman was not preparing to stuff the stockings for her grandkids. She's a consumer vigilante…
JUDY BRAIMAN, Consumer Activist:
OK. I think I'm ready.
… amassing specimens for the lab. A former adviser to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission soon after it was founded, Braiman also wrote the first "Consumer Reports" toy guide in 1988. These days, with toys flooding the market from relatively unregulated countries, mainly China, she's more worried than ever.
Could you look for lead and cadmium along with the phthalate?
The lab that tests toys for Braiman has been in business for 25 years. We asked owner Bruce Hoogesteger what the toy results have been showing.
BRUCE HOOGESTEGER, President, Paradigm Environmental Services:
Within about the last two years, 10 percent, 20 percent, 25 percent of those products have some sort of elevated lead, cadmium or other metals concentrations in them.
At her home, Judy Braiman showed us some highlights from what she calls her chamber of horrors.
Asbestos is in this products, two different types of asbestos. This is a teething blanket where children bite on it. And we tested the parts where they can bite on it, and we found high levels of phthalate. It's a hormone disrupter and a carcinogen. And also that particular product there, that…
The Frosted Flakes, yes.
Yes, the — it wasn't the flakes. It was the product that they were promoting in here has mercury in it.
And then there's — what is to Braiman — the most worrisome new toy toxin, cadmium.
Which is also a heavy metal, and far more dangerous than lead.
The EPA allows only five parts per billion of cadmium in our water supply.
We found it contained 340,000 parts per million in the charm alone.
So that's 34 percent cadmium?
Yes, 34 percent cadmium.
And where is it made?
It's made in China.
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