Target has removed two models of fidget spinners from its website and began pulling the items from store shelves on Friday after tests showed they contained high levels of lead.
Target spokeswoman Jenna Reck said in a statement to ABC News: “While these two products comply with all CPSC guidelines for fidget spinners, based on the concerns raised, we’re removing them from our assortment. Additionally, we’re working closely with our vendors to ensure all of the fidget spinners carried at Target meet the CPSC’s guidelines for children’s products.”
Earlier, the retailer sold the spinners, which are classified by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as “general use” products and not as children’s toys. That distinction means they are not subject to lead limits for children’s products.
The spinners were labeled “Ages 14+” but consumer and health advocates noted that in practice, the spinners are often used by younger children.
CPSC commissioner and former CPSC chairman Elliot Kaye tweeted Thursday: “Seems obvious fidget spinners are toys and should comply with all applicable federal safety standards.”
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group tested several models of fidget spinners and found two models, both sold at Target stores nationwide, that contained “extremely high” levels of lead in the metal and coating. One had 330 times the allowable amount for children’s products.
The group continues to test other spinners from other retailers as part of its annual holiday toy testing project.
Kara Cook-Schultz, toxics director for the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, said while the spinners might not be officially classified as toys, in practice they often are.
“Saying fidget spinners aren’t toys defies common sense, as millions of parents whose kids play with spinners can tell you,” Cook-Schultz said.
The group said its testers found the items in Target toy aisles around the country.
In a written statement, Target Corp. said the company is “committed to providing high quality and safe products to our guests, and we closely review all product safety claims that are brought to our attention.” It added that CPSC is in charge of determining how the items are categorized.
A Target spokeswoman told ABC News she thought the spinners were “primarily” sold in the front of stores.
Harold Chizick, spokesman for Bulls-I-Toys of Des Moines, Iowa, the items’ distributor, said in a statement: “Safety is one of our top priorities. All of our product are tested and comply with CPSC safety standards.”
The spinners in question are: “Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass,” which tested at 33,000 parts per million of lead in its center circle and 22,000 parts per million in the arm, and the “Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal,” which was found to have 1,300 parts per million of lead in its center circle and 520 parts per million in its arm.
The federal legal limit on lead in children’s products manufactured after August 2011 is 100 parts per million for any accessible parts, with an exception for metal components of bicycles, which are not supposed to have more than 300 parts per million of lead.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all products intended for use by children contain no more than trace amounts of lead. Lead in paint and other surface coatings on children’s products, for example, is limited at 90 parts per million.
The AAP says there is no safe levels of lead in children, pointing to growing evidence that a child’s exposure to lead can cause irreversible cognitive and behavioral problems.
Young children have been harmed by lead in products, such as costume jewelry they may be tempted to put in their mouths. In 2006, CPSC and Reebok recalled metal bracelets after a 4-year-old Minneapolis boy died of acute lead poisoning after swallowing a metal charm from the item.
“Even small amounts of lead in toys can be ingested when transferred from fingers to mouth or from fingers to food,” said national lead expert Dr. Helen Binns, pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a written statement. “Lead harms the developing brain and is easily ingested through normal hand to mouth behaviors.”
Dr. Alan Woolf, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School and a member of the AAP’s committee on environmental health, told ABC News the test results were concerning, especially because the spinners are attractive to young children.
“I don’t know what they are if they are not toys,” Woolf said. “A toy that has 33,000 parts per million of lead in it represents a hazard to a child.”