July 24, 2002

Wednesday, April 10, 2002


Toxic Plastic Toys
I am not sure what to make of this one, but I pass it on for you to
explore. It is a story from the Environment News Service warning parents about giving their kids plastic toys that the children might chew on. Later in the story, the ENS lists some toys made with non-toxic plastic. ENS says The polyvinyl chloride or vinyl that so many of these toys are made of frequently contains toxic additives that have been linked in animal studies to a variety of illnesses, including reproductive damage and damage to the kidneys and liver.”

The site says: “Among the most dangerous plastics are the families know as polyvinyl chlorides, also known as vinyl or PVC. Denmark, Sweden and Austria banned the sale of some soft vinyl toys in 1998 that contain hazardous additives. The ban affects toys intended to be mouthed for fear that phthalates (pronounced “tha-laytes,”) a commonly used plastic softener, might prove toxic to children under three. Spain, Sweden Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have also stopped selling PVC teething toys. The United States has no such prohibition and in fact has lobbied the European Commission to ease their ban and to buy U.S. vinyl baby products. “

Federal investigations into this issue indicate that children who put this plastic stuff in their mouths for 70 minutes or more a day might have a small risk. I have to say, it is not unthinkable that a small child might chew on toys 70 minutes a day.


• See this Consumer Product Safety Commission 2001 report.

Let me know if you do anything on this story. I suspect the toy industry would have a strong stance. mailto:atompkins@poynter.org



Still Missing
Have you ever done a story on who is still officially “missing” from
Vietnam? Close to 2,000 Americans are still missing and unaccounted for, according to The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.

The organization’s website includes a state by state listing of the missing.

A word of caution. If you choose to look at this story, remember that the families of the missing have absolutely no reason to expect you to delve into their case after 30 years. Go slowly, cautiously and tenderly. Consider having a third party, such as a veterans’ group, act as a go-between to help you contact family.

POW-MIA Bracelets
Here’s a story from Morning Meeting reader Steve Geiger, special projects EP at WTVT Tampa: “POW bracelets from the 1970’s. Thousands of people wore the bracelets with the names of POWs and MIAs from the Vietnam War. One of our anchors discovered the one she wore in a treasure box that remained in a closet for years. In this case we were able to find the former POW in Florida and doing well nearly thirty years after coming home. He was able to give a compelling perspective on the war, his life as a POW, and the
after effects of the war. People are still contacting former POWs after they have discovered bracelets put away long ago. In fact, during a live public affairs program on this topic, several people called very emotional saying the name of the person on their bracelets were either live on our show or in the taped package. There is a web site that has the biographies and locations of the POW’s that came home. It’s www.pownetwork.org.”

History of POW-MIA bracelets.





Dog Virus Hits Early
Here is a story from Philly; I wonder if it is more widespread: “Branches of the SPCA in Philadelphia and Delaware County have reported a premature spike in the number of dogs suffering from a highly contagious, dysentery-like virus that usually doesn’t strike until summer. The Delaware County SPCA and the Pennsylvania SPCA, which is based in Philadelphia and serves the entire city, have reported a roughly fivefold increase in spring cases of the canine parvo virus — a disease that destroys the intestinal lining and that can kill a dog just two days after the onset of symptoms. The early appearance of the virus, which does not have a ready explanation, has shelters in those areas bracing for a summer outbreak.”

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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