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AG files suit against bounce house suppliers

August 11, 2010 6:18:50 PM PDT
On Wednesday, State Attorney General Jerry Brown filed a lawsuit against nine suppliers and manufacturers of a popular play structure suspected of containing high amounts of lead -- bounce houses. They are a staple at many birthday parties and children play dates, but there is information families need to know.

Parents have had to worry about the physical injuries from bounce houses and how they are maintained, but now there's something new to think about. As most know by now, lead can slow the brain development in children. Investigators say they found lead amounts in bounce houses as much as 96 times above federal guidelines.

Children are literally jumping for joy inside the inflatable play structures and whether you call them bounce houses or jump houses there's one common word used to describe them -- popular.

"They've very popular and we want to make sure that they're safe throughout the day," says Liz Upchurch, from Steve & Kate's Camp.

That's why Steve & Kate's Camp in Berkeley allowed the Center for Environmental Health to announce its test results at the camp on Wednesday. One of the play structures they tested there contained lead at levels 40 times above the federal guidelines of 300 parts per million.

"So far we've found lead in all of the different companies we've looked at that makes bounce houses," says Caroline Cox from the Center for Environmental Health.

The center tested more than 60 bounce houses, including 30 in the Bay Area. The lead is believed to be in the vinyl.

"I don't want any child to miss a birthday party. I think the important thing is to try to minimize the exposure," says Cox.

Parents should wash their children's hands after they play in the jump house. Some may also want to consider changing their clothing.

"Make sure you watch out for what kinds of things your children are participating in," says Upchurch.

Reaction from defendants to the lawsuit has been mixed.

Cutting Edge Creation, Inc., out of Minnesota called this "a witch hunt that will affect many people in the state and place many people out of work."

The Hayward-based Bay Area Jump says, "We have taken it offline and don't have it in our inventory anymore."

And Magic Jump of Burbank says it is working with vinyl manufacturers to fix the problem at its source.

Other defendants named in the suit include three other California companies: Jump For Fun, Jump For Fun National and Thrillworks. All are based in Southern California.

The popular jump house chain Pump It Up was not named in the suit, but confirmed it gets its jump houses from some of the manufacturers sued. The company says it is ready to support new policies to verify that inflatable vendors are adhering to legal standards.


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