Some fidget spinners sold at Target contain potentially dangerous lead
Two models of fidget spinners - the popular whirling gadgets marketed as equal parts captivating and calming - contain high levels of lead that can be especially harmful to children, a leading consumer group announced Thursday.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group tested several models of fidget spinners and found two models, both sold at Target stores nationwide, that contained "extremely high" levels of lead in the metal and coating. One had 330 times the allowable amount for children's products.
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Because fidget spinners are categorized as "general use" products and not as children's toys - in this case, the packaging notes "Ages 14+" - they are not subject to lead limits overseen by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The consumer group calls the distinction absurd.
"Saying fidget spinners aren't toys defies common sense, as millions of parents whose kids play with spinners can tell you," said Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG Education Fund toxics director.
The group said its testers found the items in Target toy aisles around the country.
In a written statement, Target Corp. said the company is "committed to providing high quality and safe products to our guests, and we closely review all product safety claims that are brought to our attention." It added that CPSC is in charge of determining how the items are categorized.
A Target spokeswoman told ABC News she thought the spinners were "primarily" sold in the front of stores.
Harold Chizick, spokesman for Bulls-I-Toys of Des Moines, Iowa, the items' distributor, said in a statement: "Safety is one of our top priorities. All of our product are tested and comply with CPSC safety standards."
The spinners in question are: "Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass," which tested at 33,000 parts per million of lead in its center circle and 22,000 parts per million in the arm, and the "Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal," which was found to have 1,300 parts per million of lead in its center circle and 520 parts per million in its arm.
The federal legal limit on lead in children's products manufactured after August 2011 is 100 parts per million for any accessible parts, with an exception for metal components of bicycles, which are not supposed to have more than 300 parts per million of lead.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all products intended for use by children contain no more than trace amounts of lead. Lead in paint and other surface coatings on children's products, for example, is limited at 90 parts per million.
The AAP says there is no safe levels of lead in children, pointing to growing evidence that a child's exposure to lead can cause irreversible cognitive and behavioral problems.
Young children have been harmed by lead in products, such as costume jewelry they may be tempted to put in their mouths. In 2006, CPSC and Reebok recalled metal bracelets after a 4-year-old Minneapolis boy died of acute lead poisoning after swallowing a metal charm from the item.
"Even small amounts of lead in toys can be ingested when transferred from fingers to mouth or from fingers to food," said national lead expert Dr. Helen Binns, pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a written statement. "Lead harms the developing brain and is easily ingested through normal hand to mouth behaviors."
Dr. Alan Woolf, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School and a member of the AAP's committee on environmental health, told ABC News the test results were concerning, especially because the spinners are attractive to young children.
"I don't know what they are if they are not toys," Woolf said. "A toy that has 33,000 parts per million of lead in it represents a hazard to a child."