WASHINGTON — China’s government has suspended exports of toys covered with a toxic chemical that have been subject to recalls in many countries after sickening children, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
The government’s quality control administration issued the export ban, sealed the toys at the sites where they were produced and ordered an investigation, Xinhua said in a brief report late Friday.
Seven more U.S. children were sickened after ingesting the beads, which are sold as Aqua Dots in the United States and as Bindeez in Australia because of the toxic chemical coating.
When ingested the chemical metabolizes into the “date-rape” drug gamma hydroxy butyrate, and may cause breathing problems, mental confusion, loss of consciousness and even death.
The reports of the sickened children, six of whom were hospitalized, came from at least five states: Texas, Delaware, New Hampshire, Illinois and Utah, according to a spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The agency recalled the Spin Master Aqua Dots toy Wednesday after two children were knocked unconscious, and then hospitalized, by eating beads covered with a chemical that metabolizes into the compound gamma hydroxy butyrate — the so-called date-rape drug.
The compound can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.
CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese said the agency received reports on Thursday and Friday of seven additional children sickened by the product, bringing the total to nine. Product recalls frequently spur additional reports of harmed consumers, she said.
One of the first original cases that spurred the recall, involving 20-month old Jack Esses, originated in Arkansas.
The recall covers 4.2 million of the Aqua Dots toys, which consist of colored beads that can be arranged into designs and then fused together when sprayed with water.
The agency received its first report of a sickened child Monday and ordered stores to pull the toy two days later, Vallese said.
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The CPSC follows up with retailers to ensure they are no longer selling a recalled product by visiting stores and performing Web surveillance, she said.
The CPSC also reaches out to auction Web sites and second-hand stores to ensure they don't resell the goods, she added.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that it has directed its stores to remove the toys from shelves and has placed a stop on the products at its cash registers to prevent their sale.
Consumers are encouraged to return the toy to its distributor, Toronto-based Spin Master, Vallese said, which will provide a replacement toy.
The toys are manufactured in China for Australia-based Moose Enterprises, which sells them in 40 countries. Australian officials pulled them off the shelves Tuesday after three children there were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.
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