Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chinese crap

"China's problems with lead in consumer products
go far beyond tainted toys."

I wrote about this a long time ago, about how most of the products we buy are made in China, and it's nearly impossible to find anything made in the U.S.A. and even the wood the Amish make their furniture from is probably from China. It's not just toys where the problem lies, it's in FOOD and food additives that we put inside our bodies.
Toys just 1 danger imported from China

Rules against dangerous chemicals are tough to enforce in a country where a thriving underground industry makes substandard food, medicine and other goods.
By The Associated Press

China's problems with lead in consumer products go far beyond tainted toys.

From playthings to paint to gasoline, Chinese companies use lead in a wide range of products, and experts say China's children are suffering the health consequences.

Beijing has prohibited leaded gasoline in recent years and has tightened standards for other goods. But enforcement is spotty, and lead is still so common that researchers say up to one-fifth of Chinese children tested had unsafe levels in their blood.

"The central government many times has regulations in place, but given China's size, a lot of things don't get implemented at the local level," said Jamie Choi, a campaigner in Beijing for the environmental group Greenpeace.

In China's latest product-safety incidents, Mattel is recalling nearly 19 million Chinese-made toys made with lead paint or with powerful magnets that children could swallow. The U.S. toy giant said its supplier, Early Light Industrial, hired a subcontractor for painting that violated Mattel's rules by using paint from an outside source instead of Early Light.

On Wednesday, managers at Early Light's Hong Kong headquarters and its factory in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen didn't respond to phone calls seeking comment.

An official of a trade group, the China National Light Industry Council, argued that responsibility for meeting foreign standards should not lie with Chinese manufacturers.

"The quality of Chinese-made toys with American brands should be the responsibility of the American brand owner, not the Chinese manufacturer," said Zhang Yanfen, the secretary of the council's panel on toy standards.

Spokespeople for China's Health Ministry and product-safety agency, and the China Toy Association, an industry group, all declined to comment.

The lead menace

Lead was long added to paint to make colors brighter and to gasoline to lubricate engine parts, but exposure can harm children and cause brain damage. The United States and other countries have banned leaded gasoline and limited use of lead paint to ship hulls and in other settings where children are unlikely to come into contact with it.

China has joined developed countries in tightening controls on lead after long ignoring the health and environmental cost of its 28-year-old economic boom. But the rules are difficult to enforce in a society with a thriving underground industry producing fake and substandard food, medicine and other goods. And lower-level authorities often are reluctant to force changes that might hurt local companies.

Sale of leaded gasoline was banned in 2000. But inspectors found it was being made by clandestine factories as late as 2004 for use in older vehicles, according to the State Environmental Protection Administration.

Effects are widespread

Lead's health effects are being widely felt.

In the most serious case, 877 villagers near a lead smelter in the northwest's Gansu province, including 334 children under 14, suffered lead poisoning, according to state media.

The smelter's owners ran it at night with its pollution-control gear turned off to save money, news reports said. They said some children might suffer permanent brain damage.

At the other end of the country, a study of 5,000 children in Dongguan, a boomtown near Hong Kong, found that 22.1% had lead in their blood in excess of safe levels, according to the newspaper Yangcheng Evening News.

Dongguan is home to hundreds of factories that produce low-cost furniture, toys and other goods for export to the United States and other markets, often under contract from foreign clients.

Globalization has added to the range of possible sources of lead contamination.

In China's southeast, environmentalists say villages where residents dismantle discarded computers, TVs and other electronics from the United States and other countries by hand for recycling are contaminated with lead and other metals.

Environmentalists are lobbying Beijing to ban the use of lead in consumer goods.

Greenpeace's Choi said the group also wants to see foreign companies make sure their contractors obey regulations.

"With the strong pressure that multinationals give Chinese suppliers to supply cheaper products, while trying to meet the demands of these companies, it happens that often they will neglect environmental regulations," said Choi. "Multinationals should know that coming in."


CyberKitten said...

I wonder if all this recall scare stuff is just Economic Warfare... Or am I just being paranoid again?

Stardust said...

I think that there is a lot of truth to the quality of crap (or lack thereof) of stuff made in China. My husband works for a company that makes globes. It's a well-known globe company who made the globes that sit in the White House. They used to be of the highest quality and all made here in the USA. Now, management has changed, and they want to do things as cheaply as possible. Most of the components of these globes now come from China. The quality is no longer there. The stands are cheap, they have cheap processes in the construction of the globes themselves. In addition to crappy wood bases and other parts, when shipments come in from overseas, included in the crates are mysterious insects and roaches, etc.

Back to the this making more profit for the company? Not at all. They have lost some buyers, and the only ones they can get to buy their crappy globes now is Walfart, Kfart and cheapass stores.

Everything we have that says "made in China" is crappy. The dyes in clothes smells funny, the fabric is not very good, and I find myself having to replace things a lot sooner than I used to, and I don't have little kids here using it. Look at the backs of some furniture in good furniture stores and see what they are made of. Look at the drawers and really inspect what you are buying. It's all shoddy construction, and put together the most cheap way possible. After 32 years of marriage, and experience with buying furniture, electronics, etc. we can see the changes. It's not paranoid, and not our imaginations. My husband is a manager for the company he works for, and he hears the reasons to buy from make more profit with the sacrifice of quality because most of the public will never know or question it as long as it's cheap...until they start getting poisoned by shit or it affects their safety. Then suddenly they are upset.

teresa said...

Corporations may be outsourcing our American jobs while making record profits, but we can still make an effort to buy American! Visit for an extensive list of American toy companies, brands and products. It includes lots of clickable links to some great AMERICAN toy companies, as well as a printable list of American brands/products.

Stardust said...

teresa, you would be absolutely shocked to find out how many components of the many products the companies on your list are made in CHINA and other places overseas. Even much of the wood the Amish use to make furniture here is bought through factories that get their wood from Brazil and other places. Ask for a breakdown of production parts of where they come from. How do I know this? My husband works for one of the companies on your list and knows for a fact where the parts come from, and even part of the manufacturing process of these "American" companies are done outside of the USA.