Wal-Mart stores pulled sets of baby bibs from its stores nationwide after the bibs tested positive for high levels of lead. The bibs, sold under the Baby Connection brand name, came in packs of two to seven bibs, with embroidered prints or images of Sesame Street characters. Some were sold as long ago as 2004. The bibs were made by Hamco Inc. exclusively for the Bentonville-based retailer. The vinyl portion of the bibs exceeded the lead levels set by Illinois for children's products. The company later decided to expand the recall nationwide.
60,000 of the bib bundles were sold in Illinois without any reported injuries. The Illinois attorney general's office identified those bibs as being sold between June 2004 to the end of March this year in Wal-Mart stores throughout the state. Tests there on three styles of the bibs tested positive for lead more than 600 parts per million, the state's standard for lead in children's products. It's a PVC product, the lead in that product makes the vinyl softer.
While Wal-Mart pulled the product from its shelves nationwide, only customers in Illinois would be eligible to receive refunds or replacements. It wasn't immediately clear why the refunds only pertained to Illinois. Initially, the recall only pertained to Illinois; later Wednesday, it was nationwide. Wal-Mart's recall comes after a lawsuit over the bibs by the Center for Environmental Health, based in Oakland, Calif. The center became aware of the bibs in September and a report by an independent laboratory test contracted by the center showed the bibs contained 16 times the amount of lead allowed in paint. Lead, used as a stabilizer in vinyl plastic, can be “easily substituted” for other products, as stated by officials. The lead doesn't need to be in there and it's not hard for these companies to take it out from what the officials said. Health experts consider elevated levels of lead in blood a significant health hazard for children. Studies have repeatedly shown that childhood exposure to lead can lead to learning problems, reduced intelligence, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder. There is no lead level that is considered safe in blood, and recent studies have shown adverse health effects even at very low levels.
Those who purchased the bibs in Illinois can return them at their local Wal-Mart for a full refund or can receive a free replacement by calling (877) 373-3812 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time.
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