Urgent call for recall of Halloween toys

(CBS) -- A professor and his assistants at Ashland University in Ohio routinely test toys -- in their spare time -- for unsafe levels of lead. Some of the information Dr. Jeffrey Weidenhammer has provided to the Consumer Product Safety Commission has resulted in recalls, reports CBS News correspondent Hari Sreenivasan.

Now, says Sreenivasan, Weidenhammer and his team have found what they say are dangerous amounts of lead in some toys meant for kids to use on Halloween -- and they hope the CPSC issues speedy recalls before the holiday on Wednesday.

One toy in focus is called "ugly teeth." Besides being ugly, the fake plastic teeth have what the researchers say is 100 times the allowable levels of lead in the paint.

The teeth are just one of dozens of Halloween toys Weidenhammer and his team tested.

They say they also found high lead levels in some Halloween baskets, but they say the plastic teeth are of greatest concern because lead enters the system fastest when ingested.

On Thursday, the CPSC issued a recall of Halloween pails that children might use to carry their treats in, based partly on tests the professor and his lab had done.

They say they also found high levels in a Frankenstein cup and white skull bucket, but never received an explanation about why those two items weren't recalled.

In a statement to CBS News, the CPSC would only say it "welcomes information from a variety of sources that may assist us in our investigation."

Acting CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord recently complained to Congress about the agency's lack of resources, and confirmed that the commission only has one person who tests toys.

It usually takes the CPSC a few days to run its own tests or investigate complaints but, Sreenivasan says, considering how the toys Weidenhammer is worried about could be in the hands and mouths of children Wednesday, Weidenhammer hopes his warning becomes the CPSC's top priority.

Posted by KO

The Associated Press and CBS News contributed to this report.