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The world’s largest toy manufacturer, Mattel Inc., has agreed to pay $12 million to thirty-nine U.S. states in order to settle claims that it shipped toys tainted with lead paint. It also agreed to immediately implement new federal guidelines, which will reduce the lead content in toys by August 2009. In the past, it was acceptable to have lead content 600 parts per million, but now it will be 90 parts more million.

Massachusetts, for example, began its probe in August 2007 after the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled about two million toys made by Mattel and its subsidiary, Fisher Price. The toys in question were manufactured by a third-party in China and contained levels of lead, in the most extreme instances, of as much as 50,000 parts per million. This agreement resolves a fifteen-month probe of the toy manufacturer’s Sesame Street dolls, Dora the Explorer accessories and dozens of other products shipped to the United States last year. The toys never reached store shelves, though; had there been danger involved, the settlement amount would have been higher.

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