Four inch long painted toys, in the shape of cats and dogs, and handed out as part of a summer reading program in at least 41 states, have been recalled due to high lead content in the paint. The summer reading program was called 'Paws, claws, Scales and Tails' and were awards given to young readers based on the number of books read. The toys were made in China. Although an October 14, 2005 lead test indicated the toys were safe, a more recent test showed a lead concentration of 0.277%, almost five times the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) allowable level of 0.06%. The toys were distributed by HIghtower, a library equipment suppier, which was promoting the summer reading program. The toys can be easily put in one's mouth and sucked or chewed on. Although there have been no resports to date of lead poisoning from the toys, it is unclear if anyone has been tested yet. It does recall the case in February 2005 in which a child swallowed a charm in the shape of a heart with Reebock written on it and died, as the charm was almost solid lead. The child in that case had a blood lead level of 180 um/dl, 18 times the agreed upon threshold for a toxic effect.
In this case, a Bloomington Indiana hospital staffer, who attended an event at the Monroe Public LIbrary on July 19, 2006, told the lirbrarian of a similar lead contamination event a year earlier and gave the librarian, Stephanie Holman, a swipe test, which indicated the high lead levels. The toys have been recalled. Anyone with such toys from the library should contact their public health department.