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Lead Scare Causes Thomas to Derail

A US importer RC2 Corp based in Oak Brook, Illinois, in cooperation with US officials, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission voluntarily recalled 1.5 million "Thomas and Friends" wooden train toys made in China because it could be covered in a toxic, lead-based paint.

The toys, wooden vehicles, buildings and other train-set parts for young children, manufactured between January 2005 and April 2007, pose a danger to young children, who are likely to chew on the toys and expose themselves to lead.

Lead is toxic and can pose a dangerous health risk to young children, causing brain and blood disorders. Children under the age of 6 are the most affected. Karen Liller, an expert on child injury at the University of South Florida, said lead can accumulate in a child's nervous system, damaging brain development and potentially causing learning difficulties. Once that happens, irreversible damage can occur, she said.

She said symptoms of lead exposure can include loss of appetite, sluggishness and vomiting. A simple blood test for lead can be done on children as young as 6 months, and she said parents should contact their pediatrician or their local health department if they are concerned.

"Consumers should take the recalled toys away from young children immediately and contact RC2 Corp for a replacement toy," said the US agency.

Based on characters from the long-running television show Thomas & Friends, the toys are extremely popular with young boys and are among of the top-selling brands for RC2 Corp. About 4 percent of wooden trains sold by RC2 are affected by the recall. Twenty-six different types of Thomas toys are being recalled, most of which have been painted red or yellow.

The toys were manufactured in Chinese factories not restricted by a 1978 American ban on lead paint domestically.

The recall comes amid a series of health outrage regarding imports from china in the form of food, drug s and other products which were found to contaminated. Thousands of animals in the United States were poisoned from pet food additives made in China, one of a series of incidents that have exposed lax controls in Beijing's food quality control system.

"At this time, there have been no reports of illness or injury as a result of this issue," the company said Wednesday in a written statement. "As part of a thorough investigation, RC2 identified the issue, isolated the manufacturing facility, and has implemented a corrective action plan."


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