Lead Shoes Tip Of A Tainted Iceberg

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 6:51am

Experts say children's shoes tainted with lead aren't the only dangerous product arriving from overseas.

Customs officers recently seized $2,300 worth of children's shoes at the Port of Tacoma - all of them tainted with lead and headed for shoe stores.

The seizure renews efforts for some to trace lead in Chinese-made products.

Federal agents said for some reason a shipment of with hundreds of shoes raised concern.

"The shipment was targeted for exam," said Judy Staudt, Customs and Border Protection.

Those shoes were tested.

"When they screened these shoes, it came out with a high level of lead," said Staudt.

The shoes registered 300 parts per million of lead - three times the U.S. legal limit

CPB said the shoes were destined for a local distributor and likely store shelves after that.

Agents, who test all sorts of children's items from the Far East, are not surprised by the lead levels on Chinese-made products.

"We've had a lot of different violations with health and safety with Chinese products: pet food, drywall," said Staudt.

Erika Schreder of the Washington State Toxics Coalition isn't shocked either.

"It's not a big surprise that another item contains lead," said Schreder.

She's been using an XRF analyzer for years, the same tool custom agents used at the port to scan for toxic pollutants.

"We're concerned about lead exposure because lead harms the development of the brain," said Schreder.

She said lead often pops up in Chinese made products with PVC plastic, but shoes are a new step, which will require feds and parents to stay vigilant.

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