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Toy Marketer to Pay $1.3 Million to Settle Charges Over Tainted Craft Kits

A toy marketer has agreed to pay a $1.3 million civil penalty to settle regulators’ allegations that it failed to alert authorities about a banned toxic substance in its craft kits that was poisoning children.

A recall of 4.2 million of the Aqua Dots craft kits was launched in November, 2007 after the Consumer Product Safety Commission received reports that two children fell into comas after being sickened by the product.

But CPSC officials said in a news release that Spin Master Inc. of Los Angeles and Spin Master Ltd. of Toronto “knowingly imported and sold” the tainted craft kits before the agency learned of the problem. The agency said Spin Master was informed a month before the recall, but failed to tell authorities, that some children and a dog had been sickened and received emergency medical treatment after ingesting Aqua Dots beads.

The CPSC staff also alleged that in the following weeks, Spin Master received more reports about children falling ill from the product, but still failed to notify the agency.

Spin Master, however, denied knowingly violating the law in the settlement agreement.

According to the CPSC, the kits were tainted with 1,4 butylene glycol, or TMG. The body metabolizes that into the controlled substance gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, which targets the kidneys and central nervous system and is characterized by authorities as a date rape drug.

The craft kits consisted of beads that stuck together when sprayed with water so that children could create designs. They were sold nationally, for $17 to $30, from April through November in 2007.

As USA Today reports, the sum being paid by Spin Master is the third-largest civil penalty ever for a toymaker.

STUART SILVERSTEIN