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After the high-profile recalls of millions of lead-contaminated toys last year, a watchdog group said Wednesday that its tests found fewer toys with high levels of chemicals in them this year. But about a third of the toys tested still contained a worrisome level of chemicals.

Healthytoys.org, a project of The Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental group based in Michigan, in collaboration with other groups, tested about 1,500 toys for a variety of chemicals, including lead, arsenic, cadmium and others.

About one third were found to have a significant level of chemicals, while two-thirds had low levels or none of the chemicals the group tested for. Lead was detected in 20 percent of toys, compared with 35 percent last year. About half of the toys tested were similar to toys tested last year.

"We did see a reduction in the amount of lead this year, so I think the attention on the issue last year and throughout this year helped reduce the amount of lead in products," said Jeff Gearhart, research director for healthytoys.org. "The bad news is that there are still far too many toys with elevated levels of chemicals."

The Ecology Center, which also tests for chemical content in other products, began testing toys last year after a spate of recalls. Most significantly, Mattel Inc. recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys on fears they were tainted with lead paint and tiny magnets that children could accidentally swallow.


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