Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why Lead in Toy Paint?

The answer is: it's cheaper. But is it? According to this article paint with high levels of lead sell for 1/3 the price of their lead-less counterparts. So, firms in China buy leaded paint to lower costs and maximize profits - wouldn't Uncle Milton be proud. Are the firms in China bearing all the costs or are there potential market failures here? Let me know what you think?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would argue that leaded paint is far more expensive than non-leaded paint. The recent recalls toy companies have issued has cost them much more in the long run than it would have been to initially use non-leaded paint. However an interesting point in the article was when Ms. Zhang said "it depends on the client's requirement". Does this mean that American toy companies are telling the Chinese manufactures to disreguard the lead in paint requirements? If so it makes you want to say to the American companies "umm... wtf"

-Luke Milligan

Bobby Thomas said...

Why doesn't the Chinese government say that it is not worth putting all of these lead paints on toys and just put a stop to lead paint. Because recalled toys can not be cheaper than putting lead free paint on the toys. Our government is equally as guilty since we still buy toys that are from China. If we wanted to fix the problems ourselves all that we would have to do is stop buying the toys.

Anonymous said...

"Many Chinese business executives in turn complain about the enormous pressures that Western companies place on suppliers to continually lower costs, which they say inevitably leads desperate or greedy businesspeople to cheat in a country with poor regulation."

It seems to me as if the executives themselves are indirectly accusing themselves of being desperate and greedy cheaters. If the executives run the show you cant expect anymore out of the factory workers who are being paid nickels and dimes to make the toys. China seems to be an increasingly growing scab on the world's arse. A few toys containing lead here and there, pollution, over population...ect. They seem to be causing so many problems for themselves and others.All of this while some recent research predicts that the Chinese population will be unable to support themselves by 2050 without the assistance of other nations.This is if the current reproduction rate remains constant.Seems to me that if the Chinese understand that they will soon need the rest of the worlds help, then they had better start helping themselves and showing a little dignity by ensuring that the products produced by their manufactures meet acceptable health standards.

-Thomas Bledsole

Matt said...

"But Ms. Zhang insisted that if her company used leaded paint, it disclosed that."

“It depends on the client’s requirement,” she said. “If the prices they offer make it impossible to use lead-free paint, we’ll tell them that we might have to use leaded paint. If they agree, we’ll use leaded paint. It totally depends on what the clients want.”

….It all starts with the producer. It is up to Ms. Zhang to nip a problem such as this in the bud. Also, it’s outrageous that there is no formal standard on lead in industrial paint! So not only are they polluting their toys, they are doing the same to their houses, cars, and sidewalks... I realize it is not in any way shape or form this cut and dry, however it seems reasonable that a growing economy such as Chinas, may want to go about business the right way(while they’re still on the way up), rather than standing on their pedestal looking at the harm they caused that they could have done away with long before.

EconAlum said...

As long as consumers continue to purchase their products, China will continue to produce them by any means. In a free market, the demand side deserves its fair share of the blame. And in this case, the money we're saving at Wal-Mart on all of its Chinese manufactured good is pretty well correlated to the lack of controls in China (labor, rights, environmental, etc). The world's resources (be they natural, human, etc) are close to a zero sum game. So, where someone is benefiting, someone else must pay the piper. No free lunches here.

Anonymous said...

I agree that is both the supplier and consumer's fault in this case with the lead paint. If we as the consumer stop purchasing the toys that are dangerous, then China will stop making them with the toxic paint; just like the lady in the article said. It is as simple as that. But it does make me wonder if at the time we as consumers know about the lead in the paint? I would figure yes but it didn't actually say so in the article.
-3096, Lindsay Lamb

Russell Jaskot said...

As discussed in class this past Thursday I believe a set of incentives or some sort of direct control needs to be implied. Although most people are pointing the finger at the toy companies, which I believe is justified, you really have to go one step farther. The government needs to target the paint producers. The toy companies wouldn't be able to buy lead paint if it wasn't available on the market. The government simply has to raise the price of lead paint, or at least make it much harder to come by. The companies are generally using the lead paint because it is cheaper. If this wasn't the case think we would still have a lead problem in our toys?
Russell Jaskot
Blue Devils Football....

Jorrdan Combs said...

The biggest issue that I found with this article is that this is not a new problem in China. They continue to hurt their own environment and ours without any regard for the long lasting affects of there actions. It makes me wonder why the Chinese government has not stepped in either through policy or with incentives to at least cut down on this problem of poisoning their country's and our world's children. If they have such an abundance of lead in their country, maybe instead of increasing Chinese lead mining by 50 percent in 6 years, they should enforce a set regulation on how much lead can be produced in their country per year. This would cause the supply to go down, increase the price and cause it to be less used than it is now. It was disturbing to think that they are not worried about the problems the lead will create, even in industrial settings by using it on bridges, cars, sidewalks, etc., by causing “danger to work crews who apply or remove it” and through the possibility of runoff and it entering the water systems. What was even more disturbing to me is that U.S. toy makers are demanding these products at such low prices that this is what ends up happening. It would cost everyone, our environment included, less money in the long-run if they would avoid using harmful products from the beginning. Since “ingesting excessive amounts of lead has been linked to disorders including mental retardation and behavioral problems”, why hasn’t anyone stepped up to regulate this problem? China is endangering the people of their country immensely by trying to keep prices down to satisfy the market. In my opinion, the only hope China has is if they take actions to drive their supply down and their prices up. Otherwise, they cannot continue to conduct business like this in the long-run.

john ferraro said...

I feel that the route of the problem is the pressure from American companies placed upon the Chinese manufacturers to produuce such inexpensive toys. Their top priority is the produce an extremely low priced product, so they are forced to use the lead paint to meet the price demands. If American companies valued the quality of the product over its price, maybe this would be less of a problem. I feel that is also the responsibilty of the manufacturer to produce a product that is not going to be harmful to children. The solution to the problem relies on stricter enforcement of policies by the Chinese government, along with a more realistic price request from American buyers.