Fidget spinners were all the rage with children when they first hit the market. It seemed as if every kid in the nation was hounding parents to get their hands on these gadgets, which ended up being a teacher’s worse nightmare. The multipronged spinners were soon banned by many schools whose faculty and administers called them a distraction. Yet, they’ve been marketed as devices to keep people, especially those with attention deficit disorder, calm and focused—rather than “fidgeting”. Individuals of all ages reportedly have spinners handy whenever they need some stress relief.
Now a consumer advocacy group, U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (U.S. PIRG), says two types of fidget spinners being sold at Target could be dangerous – Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass and Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal. These have been found to contain as much as 330 times the federal legal limit for lead, according to testing conducted on the two models.
Target responded to the findings by indicating these particular spinners are not toys, but rather “general use products”. In other words, rather than being marketed to younger children, they are meant for users fourteen and older. Therefore, the toxicity can apparently be disregarded.
“The two fidget spinners cited are clearly marked on the package as ‘appropriate for customers ages 14 and older,’ and are not marketed to children,” a Target spokesman said. “As a result, the fidget spinners identified are not regulated as toys or children’s products and are not required to meet children’s product standards.”
Federal laws currently limit the amount of lead in children’s products to 100 parts per million (ppm). Laboratory tests performed by the advocacy group showed that the Fidget Wild Spinner Premium Brass contained 33,000 ppm of lead in its center circle, and 22,000 ppm in its arm. The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal contained 1,300 ppm of lead in the center circle and 520 ppm in its arm.
“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. “Lead harms the developing brain and is easily ingested through normal hand to mouth behaviors.”
The products are supplied by Bulls-I-Toys. “Safety is one of our top priorities,” said Howard Chizick, a spokesman for the company. “All of our products are tested and comply with [Consumer Product Safety Commission] safety standards.”
U.S. PIRG indicated it sent representatives to five Target stores around the country as part of the study and they discovered the gadgets being sold in the toy department, as originally suspected. The Fidget Wild Spinner Premium Brass is also being sold on Target’s website. “Framed as a toy, the fidget spinner is also a great stress-relief tool,” the description by it states, previously with an age recommendation of six and up. Since the lead issue became public, Target relisted the item as appropriate for “ages 14+.”
“Saying fidget spinners aren’t toys defies common sense, as millions of parents whose kids play with spinners can tell you,” said Kara Cook-Schultz of U.S. PIRG. The very nature of the item is toy-like and used for leisure purposes. “The CPSC, Target, and Bulls-I-Toys need to acknowledge the obvious — that all fidget spinners are toys.”