LOS ANGELES — Drinking glasses depicting comic book and movie characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman and the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz exceed federal limits for lead in children's products by up to 1,000 times, according to laboratory testing commissioned by the Associated Press.
The decorative enamel on the superhero and Oz sets — made in China and purchased at a Warner Bros. Studios store in Burbank, Calif. — contained between 16 percent and 30.2 percent lead. The federal limit on children's products is 0.03 percent.
The same glasses also contained relatively high levels of the even-more-dangerous cadmium, though there are no federal limits on that toxic metal in design surfaces.
In separate testing to recreate regular handling, other glasses shed small but notable amounts of lead or cadmium from their decorations. Federal regulators have worried that toxic metals rubbing onto children's hands can get into their mouths. Among the brands on those glasses: Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Burger King and McDonald's.
The testing was part of AP's ongoing investigation into dangerous metals in children's products and was conducted in response to a recall by McDonald's of 12 million glasses this summer because cadmium escaped from designs depicting four characters in the latest Shrek movie.
The New Jersey manufacturer of those glasses said in June that the products were made according to standard industry practices, which includes the routine use of cadmium to create red and similar colors. Federal regulators will decide whether the superhero and Oz glasses are "children's products" and thus subject to strict lead limits; if U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission staffers conclude the glasses fall outside that definition, the lead levels would be legal.
Warner Bros. said, "It is generally understood that the primary consumer for these products is an adult, usually a collector." On its website, however, the superhero glasses are sold alongside kids' T-shirts with similar images and a school lunch box. An online retailer, retroplanet.com, describes the 10-ounce glasses as "a perfect way to serve cold drinks to your children or guests."
The importer, Utah-based Vandor LLC, said it "markets its products to adult collectors." The company said fewer than 10,000 of each set had been sold and that the products were made under contract in China.