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Report: Company Knew Of Lead In Toys

Toymaker issues voluntary recall for Thomas & Friends spinning top five years after learning of lead.

CHICAGO (AP) - The toy company that has issued a voluntary recall for a Thomas & Friends spinning top had a 2002 test report showing it contained lead paint, according to a published report.
The Chicago Tribune reported in its Thursday editions that toymaker Schylling Associates changed the design of the toy that year rather than recalling it when a test found it had lead paint.
The Rowley, Mass.-based company Wednesday initiated a voluntary recall for 51,000 tops under its Thomas & Friends, Curious George and Circus Top lines, according to a statement issued Thursday.
''We are currently reviewing all products manufactured during that time period to ensure their safety,'' company president Jack Schylling said in the statement.
Jim Leonard, Schylling's chief operating officer, said he found a June 2002 test report showing that the Thomas & Friends top contained lead paint on its wooden knob. The company replaced the knob with a plastic one a month later.
When asked by the Tribune why the company didn't recall the toy then, Leonard said, ''I can't answer that ... I had just started here.''
The company reviewed its records after the Tribune bought one of the spinning tops online through eBay and had it tested at a University of Iowa lab. The test found the toy had a lead content of 2.4 percent, 40 times higher than the legal limit for lead paint.
When told of the test results, Chief Executive David Schylling told the Tribune earlier this week he was ''amazed.''
He said the company has been selling the toys for about 10 years and they included wooden knobs painted red for about a year. The company was aware of problems with lead paint being used on the knobs, he said.
''We have rejected shipments that tested positive,'' he said. ''And they've remade the goods and they've used different paint and they've been accepted.''
Leonard said the company also is examining whether lead contaminated a similar toy called a Circus Top along with several types of metal pails with wooden handles.
''It's very clear we have a product we sold that had lead it in,'' he said. ''It's not something we intended or wanted to have happen. We're very frustrated by that.''