Zhu Zhu Pets Declared Safe Following Report of Chemical Dangers

CPSC investigates after consumer group claims chemical dangers in popular toy.

ByLee Ferran and Andrea Canning via via logo
December 03, 2009, 1:27 PM

Dec. 7, 2009— -- There will be no recall for the popular Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters following a contested report that the toys contained "dangerous" levels of potentially harmful metals, an official for the Consumer Product Safety Commission told ABC News today.

The official said the CPSC had determined that the toys meet all federal standards for heavy metals and that the agency considered them "safe."

The CSPC comment comes hours after the consumer group that originally reported the toys' hazards, GoodGuide, issued a "correction" in a press release and clarified that its testing method differed from that of the industry standard.

"While we accurately reported the chemical levels in toys that we measured using our testing method, we should not have compared our results to federal standards," the statement said. "We regret this error."

The CSPC began investigating the life-like toy hamsters after GoodGuide posted on its Web site that one of the hamster types, Mr. Squiggles, contained a potentially dangerous amounts of antimony. The claim was staunchly refuted by Zhu Zhu Pets producer Cepia Corp.

"We are disputing the findings of GoodGuide 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," Russ Hornsby, CEO of Cepia LLC, said in a statement posted on the Zhu Zhu Pets Web site.

Hornsby told ABC News that Ceplia's products "are in compliance with all government and industry safety standards. They do not contain high levels of antimony in any way."

Click here to read Cepia's full statement.

For their test GoodGuide used an X-ray fluorescence test that tells exactly how much heavy metal is in the product, Charles Margulis of the Center for Environmental Health told "Good Morning America," but it does not tell whether the metals pose any danger and might actually get out of the toy.

Cepia uses a leach test -- the industry standard -- that examines how much of the chemical will come off in lab testing.

Dana O'Rourke, GoodGuide CEO, wrote in a blog post that "while GoodGuide considers the presence of any antimony on the surface of a toy to be a concern, we want to clarify that we used a testing methodology to evaluate the toys that is different from the testing methodology incorporated into the federal standards."

CLICK HERE for more information on other potentially harmful toys.

Toxicologist: Antimony Levels Too Low to Cause Health Problems

Antimony is commonly found in toys, but the government limits it to 60 parts per million. Testers for GoodGuide claimed that using an X-ray gun they found up to 103 parts per million in Mr. Squiggles.

"A metal which has potential health hazards related to it. Which if ingested in high enough levels can lead to cancer, reproductive health, and other human health hazards," O'Rourke said.

Toxicologist Dr. Christopher Holstege from the University of Virginia said those levels of antimony are far too low to cause any short- or long-term health problems.

"We're not recommending that you throw them away. But if you're concerned about it then we recommend that you call the company or potentially return the product if you feel it's not safe enough for your kids," O'Rourke said.

Though the CPSC assured consumers there will not be a recall because of any violation of the new federal standard for antimony or other heavy metals, it did say the agency will continue its investigation through independent testing.

"[The] CPSC is working especially hard this time of year to ensure that toys are safe for all children," the CSPC said in an earlier statement. "The agency is proactively evaluating certain toys and we are working with consumer groups to test toys they have been brought to our attention."

This is the first year GoodGuide has tested toys. Hornsby said this morning that Cepia is contacting GoodGuide to share all of its Zhu Zhu Pet testing data to they can "get to the bottom" of the report.

CLICK HERE to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events