A Failure in Transparency and Accuracy: “Toxic Toys in Albany County” (Part 2)

In my last posting, “A Big Fail:  “Toxic Toys in Albany County” PART 1,” I described how an “unsafe” toy report , "Toxic Toys in Albany County," by an organization called “Clean & Healthy New York” had failed to meet a minimum standard in how it classified products in its account.  Two-thirds of the products cited were not toys, yet the organization chose to use the word “Toys” in the title of its report, giving a false impression as to toy safety.

In Part 2 I want to focus on their failure in methodology.  The report states its methodology as follows:   “In late October and early November 2014, we visited a number of stores, and using our X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Analyzer, identified a dozen products that contained chemicals of concern. We then tested more thoroughly in our offices, using the XRF Analyzer.”

When a toy company makes a product, it is required to detail where the product was made, to provide a lot or tracking number and to indicate clearly age grading and any potential dangers.  If “Clean & Healthy New York” were a toy company they would have failed this standard.

For example, it would be helpful to know which X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Analyzers were used.  Like any piece of equipment, there are analyzers and there are analyzers.  “Clean & Healthy New York” stated the manufacturer as Innov-X.  I checked the website and their XRF Analyzers come in a variety of styles and levels of sophistication.  Which one did “Clean & Healthy New York” use?  We don’t know.

In reading the rest of their statement on methodology I noticed that there was no information on who did the testing, what their training was and how knowledgeable they were in using, reading and analyzing the data.  The report did list:  “Research: Bobbi Chase Wilding.”  But who is Bobbi Wilding, what are her credentials and training and what exactly did she do?  We don’t know because the report does not tell us.

Credit must go to the Toy Industry Association which had an independent testing lab test the toy products and ran an article under the following headline:  “Federally Accredited Lab Finds: Clean and Healthy NYS ‘Toxic Toys’ Report is Wrong.”  According to the TIA, all toy products cited were found to be safe.

Here is what I think: 

  1. The toy industry must hold those who do this kind of reporting to a standard.  It would be helpful to clearly state what that standard is. 
  2. If that standard is met, the industry should engage those who have done the report in a discussion to clarify and rectify if necessary.
  3. A law has been proposed based upon this study yet the local media has failed to cover the story adequately.  The toy industry therefore needs to be more aggressive in making sure that there are retractions by media outlets that reported the initial findings.  I found numerous articles written by Albany area news outlets about the Toxic Toy Report, yet none has reported the TIA’s findings.   There should have minimally been a correction much less another article.

Bottom line, Clean & Healthy New York failed its community, stakeholders and the toy industry by failing to provide full transparency and accuracy.   And that is truly bad for toy safety and children.

One thought

  1. Thanks for the very insightful article Richard. I totally agree with the last 3 points you have mentioned at the end of the article.

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