By now you might have heard of the bizarre Aqua Dots (or Bindeez Craft) recall. As CNN reported this morning, U.S. safety officials have recalled about 4.2 million Chinese-made Aqua Dots bead toys that contain a chemical that has caused some children to vomit and become comatose after swallowing them.
Some interesting things about this particular incident:
- Another Chinese toy gone bad?
- It’s “Toy of the Year” in Australia and Wal-Mart’s Top 12 Christmas toys
- Talk about our world being flat: Aqua Dot’s U.S. toy distributor, Spin Master, is based in Toronto. They did a voluntary recall in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Toys were produced by Moose Enterprises, an Australian company, but factory made in China. Incidentally, Hong Kong researchers are doing tests to confirm the chemical, and if confirmed, suppliers of the toy in Hong Kong could face a year in jail and fines of $12,877.
- Only when metabolized (converted in body) does it become the toxic “date rape” drug GHB (gamma-hydroxy butyrate)
- The toys were supposed to use 1,5-pentanediol, a nontoxic compound found in glue, but instead contained the harmful 1,4-butanediol, which is widely used in cleaners and plastics.
- But here’s a possible reason: Price. The Chinese online trading platform ChemNet China lists the price of 1,4 butanediol at between about $1,350-$2,800 per metric ton, while the price for 1,5-pentanediol is about $9,700 per metric ton.
- One of my librarian colleagues noted that if the toy company had bothered to have a chemical information specialist do 5 minutes worth of literature searching, they would have easily been able to anticipate this problem, which was described in detail 4 years ago: Lora-Tamayo, C.; Tena, T.; Rodriguez, A.; Sancho, J. R.; Molina, E. Intoxication due to 1,4-butanediol. Forensic Science International (2003), 133(3), 256-259. CODEN: FSINDR ISSN:0379-0738.
- It’s too bad, because the Aqua Dots really made kids happy.
- The Onion made this a joke seven years ago… (Thanks Shady!).