By Lyndsey Layton
Tuesday, December 8, 2009; A22
Mr. Squiggles is in the clear.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission confirmed Monday that the holiday season's runaway hit toy, Zhu Zhu Pets, does not exceed federal standards for toxic chemicals.
"Through a meeting with company officials today and careful analysis of the independent testing according to federal standards that was conducted of this toy, we were able to confirm that it is not out of compliance," said Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the CPSC.
A ratings Web site, GoodGuide, reported Saturday that it had found high levels of antimony in the Zhu Zhu Pets' "Mr. Squiggles" model. Antimony is used as a fire retardant in textiles and plastics, and chronic exposure to it can cause heart and lung problems and other health effects.
Federal laws require that toys contain no more antimony than 60 parts per million. GoodGuide reported that it had tested Mr. Squiggles and detected antimony between 93 and 106 parts per million.
But the Web site used a relatively inexpensive hand-held X-ray device that measures elements found on the surface of a toy, instead of performing more extensive solubility tests required by the federal government.
"While we accurately reported the chemical levels in the toys that we measured using our testing method, we should not have compared our results to federal standards," the Web site said Monday. "We regret this error." GoodGuide executives could not be reached for comment Monday.
The news was bound to relieve concerned parents across the country. More than 6 million Zhu Zhu Pets have been sold this holiday season, turning the $10 toy into a surprise hit and must-have.
Cepia, the St. Louis-based manufacturer of Zhu Zhu Pets, took the unusual step of posting its internal test results -- provided by Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, a well-known independent laboratory -- that showed the toys did not exceed federal limits of toxic chemicals in solubility tests and other analyses.
"We are disputing the findings of Good Guide and we are 100% confident that Mr. Squiggles, and all other Zhu Zhu Toys, are safe and compliant with all U.S. and European standards for consumer health and safety in toys," Russ Hornsby, Cepia's chief executive, said in a statement.
In addition, the toy maker said several of the major retailers that carry Zhu Zhu Pets have also done tests before selling the toys and have found that they comply with federal standards.
Officials at the Consumer Product Safety Commission said they intend to conduct their own tests of Mr. Squiggles, but it is unclear how long it will take to get results.