While government regulators are apparently trying to decide whether or not the asbestos-filled “CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit” should be “officially” recalled (see “It’s Official–Asbestos Toys from China Are on US Shelves” posted 4 December 2007), the marketing company–Planet Toys–is making a token effort to do the right thing. Last week, Planet Toys voluntarily issued a “stop sale” notice, according to the corporate website. The notice also stated that the company conducted its own tests and that the CSI kits were found to be “safe,” but that “out of an abundance of caution Planet Toys is temporarily issuing a voluntary ‘stop sale’ on the Kits while it conducts a further investigation.” Given the typical corporate mentality, Planet Toys’ primary motivation for the “stop sale” order may have been a fear of future lawsuits. Nonetheless, the company should be commended for taking action where federal officials are failing to show leadership in protecting our children. If you recall the 4 December entry, you’ll know that the primary suspect is talc–which is often contaminated with asbestos (see “What’s In a Name?” posted 19 July 2007).
According to the Planet Toys website, there were allegations by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) that two of the three types of talc powder used in the kit to gather fingerprints contained as much as 5% asbestos fibers. On 3 December, Planet Toys claimed that their own tests of the product–“conducted by a leading asbestos testing laboratory in upstate New York”–had failed to detect any asbestos in the kits. The announcement went on to say that “Planet Toys is both proud and pleased to announce our findings in refuting the asbestos organization’s claim.” Nonetheless, less than three weeks later, although Planet Toys continues to insist that the kits do not contain asbestos, they are asking retailers to pull the product from the shelves. So–are the kits asbestos free, or not?
Consider the number of shoddy and toxic products from China that have poured into the U.S. since ill-conceived “free trade agreements” were signed and U.S. corporations started making China their factory floor. Furthermore, consider the source–a large, global corporation–and the fact that such corporations have, for the past quarter century, often shown complete disregard for human life in the name of profits (which for the past six years, have been the highest in history). Then, consider the ADAO–a relatively small, non-profit advocacy group fighting for the rights and protection of asbestos victims against the 800-pound corporate gorilla–which has nothing to gain but justice. Who are you going to believe?