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Chinese-Made Drinking Glasses Contain 1000 Times Allowable Levels of Lead

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The Associated Press reports:

"Drinking glasses depicting comic book and movie characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman and the Tin Man from 'The Wizard of Oz' exceed federal limits for lead in children's products by up to 1,000 times, according to laboratory testing commissioned by The Associated Press.

"The decorative enamel on the superhero and Oz sets - made in China and purchased at a Warner Brothers Studios store in Burbank - contained between 16 percent and 30.2 percent lead. The federal limit on children's products is 0.03 percent."

Now, come on--hasn't China been caught enough times that it might have sunk in by now that slathering lead all over just about everything they send our way might not seem like such a great idea anymore?

The AP's testing, conducted by ToyTestingLab of Rhode Island, "found that the enamel used to color the Tin Man had the highest lead levels, at 1,006 times the federal limit for children's products. Every Oz and superhero glass tested exceeded the government limit: The Lion by 827 times and Dorothy by 770 times; Wonder Woman by 533 times, Superman by 617 times, Batman by 750 times and the Green Lantern by 677 times."

When the safest piece of glassware "only" exceeds federal standards by 6,770%, it may be time to a) stop importing painted glasses from China, or b) stop importing painted glasses from China.

Why do they keep doing it?

Price, of course.

A report by David Barboza in the New York Times explains:

"Paint with higher levels of lead often sells for a third of the cost of paint with low levels. So Chinese factory owners, trying to eke out profits in an intensely competitive and poorly regulated market, sometimes cut corners and use the cheaper leaded paint.

"On the books, China’s paint standards are stricter than those in the United States, requiring that paint intended for household or consumer-product use contain no more than 90 parts of lead per million. By comparison, American regulations allow up to 600 parts per million.

“'The standard doesn’t matter,' said Scott Clark, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. 'Remember, in the Soviet Union during the cold war, they had very high standards on the books, but they never enforced them. It was just for show.'”

Hang on, didn't China swear to god, cross its heart, hope to die, stick a needle in its eye in 2007 that it was banning lead paint on toys exported to the US?

Chuanzhong Wei, vice minister of China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, seemed so serious about it, so dedicated to fixing the problem.

Well, about that...don't forget that he also said that, "We should not over-propagandize the problem."

Good point, my man. Why get all tangled up in "over-propagandizing" this whole lead thing? It's not like lead is a neurotoxin that causes impulsivity and aggression. Or that a study by economist Rick Nevin shows a relationship between early childhood lead exposure and criminal behavior later in life.

“It is stunning how strong the association is,” Nevin told the Washington Post. “65 to 90% or more of the substantial variation in violent crime was explained by lead.”

Or that in 2001, sociologist Paul B. Stretesky and criminologist Michael Lynch showed that U.S. counties with high lead levels had four times the murder rate of counties with low lead levels, after controlling for environmental and socioeconomic factors.

Or that in 2002, Herbert Needleman, a psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh, compared lead levels of 194 adolescents arrested in Pittsburgh with lead levels of 146 high school adolescents. He found that the arrested youths had lead levels that were four times higher.

“Impulsivity means you ignore the consequences of what you do,’ he said. “Lead decreases the ability to tell yourself, if I do this, I will go to jail.”

Even the Chinese themselves are pissed off beyond all recognition about the lead that is poisoning their own children.

As the BBC reported last year:

"...villagers broke into the Dongling Lead and Zinc Smelting Company, near the city of Baoji in western Shaanxi on Monday, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"About 100 police officers were sent to the plant to restore order.

"The villagers are angry because medical tests revealed that at least 600 children under 14 from two villages near the plant have excessive amounts of lead in their blood."

Is anything 100% safe? Of course not. If we were to reject every single thing that could possibly harm us in life, man would have never harnessed fire.

But perhaps it's time to stop buying Chinese Wonder Woman glasses for our children. Don't worry--there are plenty of  home-grown ways to retard their development. We don't need the extra help from China, thank you.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.