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August 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 8
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Innov-X XRF Systems Detect More Than Lead

Toy Safety Checks Look For Various Toxic Chemicals


“We can test 100 toys an hour.” Jeremy Weir, Exposing Lead
Lead is not the only thing to worry about when it comes to toys and other products for children.
The August 2007 lead scare and series of toy recalls was the beginning (see TDmonthly’s Lead and Toy Safety section). But children’s health advocates say there are other hazardous chemicals in toys. The Import Guard X-Ray Fluorescent (XRF) system from Innov-X Systems, Inc. is helping parents, retailers and manufacturers spot them.

LOOKING BEYOND LEAD

Lead is just one of several toxins that can be present in toys.

“In 2006, the European Union passed the RoHS directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances),” Andrea Klos, business development specialist at Innov-X told TDmonthly. “This directive identified five elements that must be restricted in consumer electronics: lead, mercury, chromium, bromine and cadmium. The EU also banned certain types of phthalates and other substances deemed potentially hazardous.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these chemicals have been linked in animal and sometimes human studies to long-term health problems such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer.

Innov-X developed the RoHS analyzer to test for these elements, and in 2007 created the Import Guard for toy testing.

“It tests for all RoHS elements and additionally other elements of concern, including arsenic, selenium, barium and antimony,” Klos said. “It can determine if a toy is made of PVC, an indicator that it may contain phthalates.”

Recognizing the growing concern about the presence of toxic chemicals in toys, Jeremy Weir launched Exposing Lead, based in Roswell, Ga., and uses the Import Guard to conduct in-home and daycare center tests.

“We can test 100 toys an hour,” he said, noting that less than 5 percent of toys tested show the presence of lead. This measure matches what Innov-X has seen at in-store tests it has conducted, Klos said.

BOOSTING AWARENESS OF SAFETY

Michigan’s Ecology Center has been heavily involved in assessing the safety of children’s products. “We’ve worked with the Innov-X XRF over the last four years to conduct research for environmental health on toys and children’s products,” Research Director Jeff Gearhart told TDmonthly.

Gearhart credits the XRF with both expediting and facilitating the testing process, and enabling the Center to provide the information to the public to make better purchase decisions.

“It provides instant access to the data and non-destructive sampling. You can do your inspection, and immediately fill out the product information,” he said.

Innov-X continues to take retailers’, manufacturers’ and parents’ concerns seriously.

“When it all started happening, we received calls,” Klos said. “We developed the tools and information to help customers. And we did a ton of toy testing in stores and locations all over the country.”

Klos said that the Import Guard’s sales continue to grow, in part due to the company’s Rent-to-Own program, which enables buyers to pay through the rental over a period of 10 months.

To contact Innov-X about toy testing and other programs, contact Innov-X Systems, 781-938-5005, Attn: Andrea Klos.



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Claudia NewcornWriter's Bio: Claudia Newcorn has been a freelance writer and editor for over 10 years, after having spent more than a decade in marketing and product management. She writes for both businesses and individual clients, crafting copy, content and advertising. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines and specialty publications nationwide (www.acornmarketing.com). She is also the author of an award-winning fantasy fiction book, "Crossover," and several published short stories (www.claudianewcorn.com). Read more articles by this author

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