Source AP ©

New Zealand and Australia ban lead-tainted children's toys

Governments of the Australia and New Zealand banned children's toys that contain unsafe levels of lead and introduced new penalties for retailers who sell them.

The ban replaces a voluntary industry standard and comes after U.S. toy giant Mattel Inc. recently made three recalls of Chinese-made toys because of concerns about the level of lead they contained.

The ban is to go into effect Wednesday in Australia and Thursday in New Zealand, the governments said in statements.

Companies that supply toys with paints with lead contents of more than 90 parts per million face fines of 1.1 million Australian dollars (US$940,000; EUR672,000) for each offense in Australia and 200,000 New Zealand dollars (US$147,000; EUR105,000) in New Zealand.

"This ban will help ensure that toys with unacceptable lead content are not available for sale," Australian Parliamentary Secretary Chris Pearce said in a statement.

"Toy suppliers should ensure that their quality control and toy testing systems are robust to prevent any potential breaches of the ban in respect of lead content in toys," he added.

New Zealand Consumer Affairs Minister Judith Tizard said the joint national action would help ease compliance costs for suppliers.

The standard sets a maximum "lead migration level" - the ability of lead to enter the human body from a source such as paint on a toy.