Disneyland Lead Problem? Environmental Group Files Suit Against the 'Happiest Place on Earth'

 @ashleyportero
on October 18 2011 11:41 AM

Minnie's House, the Haunted Mansion and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride are all attractions families may want to avoid during their next Disneyland adventure, according to an environmental group alleging the California theme park is riddled with attractions that can expose children to potentially dangerous levels of lead.

The Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation filed an injunction Tuesday to require the park to post health warnings or cover the lead-tainted items. The move comes after the organization filed a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Parks and Resort U.S. Inc. in April, alleging that excessive levels of lead in commonly touched objects at Disneyland can potentially lead to health risks for park visitors, especially children.

We are asking the court to force Disney to take steps that should have been taken when we first told them that children at Disneyland are in danger of illegal lead exposures, Mateel President William Verick said in a statement, according to multiple reports.

Brass door knobs at Minnie's House, stained-glass windows in Cinderella's Castle and the Sword in Stone attraction -- where photographers encourage children to pose while handling the sword, Ex Calibur -- all contain unsafe amounts of lead, according to the lawsuit.

In court documents, Disney has reportedly rejected Mateel's allegations, arguing that it complied with California state law by posting adequate warnings over lead-tainted objects and fixtures.

Disney Says It Is Complying With Signage Requirements

Suzi Brown, a Disney spokesperson, told the Los Angeles Times the company has not received papers for the injunction, but maintains the Disneyland Resort is in full compliance with the signage requirements.

Individuals working for Mateel tested Disneyland for lead through a process known as wipe testing last June and December, according to the Times, which aims to mimic what happens when someone touches lead-contaminated items. A volunteer reportedly wiped his hands with a laboratory version of a moist towelette, and then touched windows, door knobs and other objects throughout the park. In each case, the volunteer then wipe his hands with another towelette, which was then analyzed by an independent lab.

In addition to the lead found at the Haunted Mansion, Mr. Toads Wild Ride and the Peter Pan ride, a sample taken from a stained-class Pinocchio window in the dining area of Village Haus restaurant found 350 micrograms of lead exposure. Under state law, warnings are required if average exposure exceeds 0.5 micrograms per day.

Lead is a toxic metal that was commonly included in paint, plumbing materials and other household objects for years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. High exposure can cause a range of health effects, including behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and in some cases, death. Children below the age of 6 have the highest risk of developing health problems as the result of lead poisoning.

The Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation has filed several lawsuits claiming companies are violating California's Proposition 65 toxics law, according to a CalProp65.com, a Web site maintained by an attorney with the firm Fulbright & Jaworski. However, as of Oct. 18, an internet search could not turn up a Web site for Mateel itself.

William Verick, on behalf of the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation, is listed as an Executive Committee Member for the California League for Environmental Enforcement Now, a state-wide coalition of environmental and public health organizations, advocates and law firms committed to strengthening toxic pollution laws.

 

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