T-A Creations Inc. has been fined $10 million for violating California laws on toxic substances. The company sold 100,000 lunchboxes to the state health department that were tainted with lead last year.
T-A Creations was notified in April 2006 that it had sold lead contaminated lunchboxes to a summer camp and the company did not do anything to fix the problem, so the center sued T-A Creations in 2006. The fine will be split, with $2.5 million going to the Center for Environmental Health and $7.5 million going to special state environmental research and enforcement fund.
The order also stops the company from selling soft food and beverage containers, which includes lunchboxes, without warnings for carcinogenic and reproductive harm caused by lead (and lead compounds). The lunchboxes were purchased by the California Department of Health to give away at fairs promoting healthy living.
In September, public health authorities recalled 300,000 green and blue canvas lunchboxes the department had distributed throughout the state since 2004. A spot check by a Sacramento County lab found lead levels in some boxes “significantly above” the state’s legal limit of 600 parts per million. At the same time, the Center for Environmental Health was pursuing a lawsuit against T-A Creations and other lunchbox sellers, aimed at reaching agreements to remove lead from their products.
T-A was given many chances to appear in court and they never did. The company was the only one out of around 20 that didn’t reach a settlement. Legal experts believe the judgement against T-A Creations was particularly harsh. According to Lana Beckett, publisher of Proposition 65 Clearinghouse, the settlements in 156 cases in 2007 totaled only $13.6 million.