Higher Than Safe Levels of Antimony Found in Zhu Zhu Pets

What is antimony and its affects? How is the company that makes the Zhu Zhu pet reacting?

It has recently been discovered that the wildly popular Zhu Zhu pets contain a chemical known as antimony. In a recent report conducted by California safety group, Good Guide, higher than safe levels have been found in the cute little electronic pets.  The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 restricts the total amount of antimony to no more than 60 parts per million. According to Good Guide's tests, the consumer safety group says it found 93 ppm in Mr. Squiggles’ fur and 103 in its nose. To date, no recall has been made for the toy and this has quite a few parents more than a bit concerned.  What exactly is antimony and what are its possible harmful effects?

What is antimony

Antimony is a chemical element commonly used in electronics and for flame-proofing. It can be found in paints, ceramics, enamels, and rubber products. As a result of the usage of antimony in many non-recyclable materials and due to its toxic properties, antimony is a highly talked about topic in the context of the environment.

Other major sources of antimony include automobile gas emissions and fossil fuel burning. It is a common superfluous byproduct found during coal and petroleum manufacturing processes. Antimony is also used in combination with other alloys for uses in storage batteries and bearings.

Health effects

Antimony and most of its compounds are considered to be toxic. Small doses of the chemical result in poisoning much like arsenic. Small amounts of exposure to antimony can cause dizziness, headaches, and depression. Ingesting antimony in large quantities can cause vomiting and can even lead to death in just a few days. It has also been found that fertility may be affected. Rats exposed to antimony in their breathable air were noted to have higher than normal fertility issues. Additionally, lung cancer was observed.

The company's stand

According to a press release made by Cepia LLC, the company that makes and sells the Zhu Zhu pets, “We are disputing the findings of Good Guide and we are 100 percent 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,” said Russ Hornsby, CEO of Cepia LLC.

Clearly a recall of the toy is needed but it appears as though the jury is still out. Until a decision is made, at a minimum, the toys should not be given to small children who are much more likely to be prone to placing the toys in their mouths.

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Sam Montana
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Posted on Dec 6, 2009