Trouble In Toyland

POSTED: Monday, December 14, 2009 - 3:49pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:25pm

New laws take the fun out of Denver's Toy Library...

It's a law that aims at protecting children and consumers from lead poisoning in toys, clothes and other everyday items.

However, it comes at a steep price for the Denver, Colorado's only toy library.

"We've collected a lot of toys over the years, 500 toys," said Kristel Deckx, a volunteer with the Denver Toy Library, "but most of them aren't safe because we don't have proof that they don't have lead in them."

Toys are on the list of items to check out along with books, movies and CDs at the Smiley Branch of Denver Public Libraries in the Highlands neighborhood.

For nearly 30 years, the toy library has provided educational instructional and creative toys suitable for infants up to age 8.

Volunteers disinfect and sterilize the toys when they are returned, ensuring they are both clean and safe for the next patron who chooses to check out a particular toy.

However, volunteers at the Denver Toy Library couldn't foresee another safety hazard: potential lead poisoning in toys manufactured prior to 2009.

Out of the Toy Library's 500 toys, nearly 400 had to be thrown out because of new federal safety laws regulating lead content, which went into effect in February.

"We want to have safe toys for kids to play with, but most of these toys were donated anytime between the 70s and the 90s," Deckx said. "There's no way for us to find out unless we get proper documentation from every company for every toy, and that was just not possible."

Only toys with documentation proving the toy has either been tested and meets safe lead level standards or has been manufactured after August 2009 can be put into the Toy Library's circulation, leaving the library with only about 130 toys on hand for the new year.

"It's a big project," Deckx said, "and we have a lot of toys to replace!"

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