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Mattel Maintains Devotion to Dangerous Products and Hazardous Working Conditions

Mattel Maintains Devotion to Dangerous Products and Hazardous Working Conditions

"Basically, occupational disease could be prevented but it costs money. Money is the gold of bosses. And for them, the lives of workers are worthless."
-Wang Fengping, an engineer who is now suing her employer after suffering kidney failure

January 15, 2008 —

Probably the most overlooked aspects of 2007's string of toxic toy scandals are the host of environmental and health dangers associated with manufacturing poisonous products. The Chinese workers who spray lead paint on toys destined for American shelves — often without masks or gloves — don't have to put the toys in their mouths to experience the effects of lead poisoning. When they go home at night they bring with them paint dust which in turn pollutes their living spaces, putting their families at risk.

Today, Consumerist brought us yet another example of how Mattel simply doesn't care about the health and safety of the people who manufacture its toys. To consumers, cadmium batteries are cheap and safe alternatives to conventional alkaline batteries. But for the Chinese workers who manufacture them, cadmium dust is a toxic menace — prolonged exposure can lead to kidney failure, lung cancer and bone disease.

In one factory alone, 400 current employees have been found to harbor unsafe levels of cadmium in their systems, and one of those workers — an engineer who didn't directly handle the batteries — is suing her former employer after suffering kidney failure. To be clear, the manufacturer in question doesn't do business with Mattel, but Mattel refuses to join its competitor Hasbro in discontinuing all use of the batteries, citing "performance advantages."

Mattel's handling of its overseas manufacturing operations is a complete mess, and by again refusing to take health and safety regulations seriously, Mattel has sent a clear message to American consumers that they cannot be trusted to produce a safe product.

 

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