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Product Safety and Quality

(From the Maple LandMark Website – 10/26/2009)

   The majority of our products are toys and we take toy safety seriously. As required, we follow the US Consumer Product Safety Commission rules, including the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Our most recent third-party tests (Feb. 2009) have re-confirmed all previous tests with respect to lead and heavy metals.

   Our materials are below the detectible lead level of 10 ppm. The current federal standard is 600 ppm. (and other companies are complaining about the potential drop to 90 ppm). While we never add lead to our products we will never claim our products to be "lead-free." Lead is a trace background element and cannot be 100% eliminated. Do not believe any claims of products being lead-free, it cannot be guaranteed.

   Although it is currently unnecessary to test for phthalates in our products, we have done so. We have passed all of those tests as well.

   Our efforts do not stop there. We strive to produce product that will last for generations. This means going beyond minimum guidelines. Everyone has experienced the toy that broke the day after Christmas. That probably isn't a lack following official guidelines but it is from a lack of concern for overall quality. For example, a softwood block is safe, a hard maple block is superior.

Finishes

   There is great concern about the components of finishes. While lead grabs all of the headlines, we find many people with concerns well beyond the federally regulated toxins.

   Given our very broad product line, we use a great variety of finishes. We even have products with no finish (see our Schoolhouse Naturals line). It is our policy to make it very clear to you what finish we use on what product so you can make your own decisions. The specific finishes we use on each product are listed with product as you browse our site. The coatings we use are:

Dye Stains: These are water/alcohol based stains, specially made for dip finishing, which is the least wasteful application process. These are in a variety of colors and are primarily used on our NameTrain line. We typically overcoat with urethane to prevent bleeding when wet.

Enamel: A lot of our round parts have a hard, colored coating. This is a tumbled-on enamel, a solvent-based finish. Most of our colored wheels and colored rattle parts are finished this way.

Lacquer: Nitrocellulose lacquer is an age-old spray finish that provides a hard, shiny, paint-like coating. It can be clear or opaque bright colors. Historically used for Montgomery Schoolhouse products, though some are being shifted to other coating types. Lacquer is a petroleum-based finish.

Nothing at all: Yes, no finish at all, as seen on our new Schoolhouse Naturals line. With an enormous number of queries about all our finishes, we thought we would try a line that has had all of the finish concerns removed. So far, we've seen great interest.

Tung oil: A centuries-old finish, made from the oil in the nut of the tung tree. Our version is all natural, with pure polymerized tung oil, a citrus-derived solvent and beeswax. We use this on some rattle parts and on the finished natural classic trucks. This finish is being phased out in favor of Natural Oil.

Natural Oil: New to us, this is an FDA approved plant oil based finish, often used on kitchenwares. No allergenic nuts are used. This is a true oil finish and does not shine nor set really hard. It does, however, leave a rich amber appearance on our wood.

Urethane: Another dip finish, more specifically called oil-modified urethane varnish, not a polyurethane. It is a clear finish, using a mineral spirit solvent. This finish takes a little extra time to cure and products may retain an odor until unwrapped—especially during the busy season.

Whey: Utilizing a byproduct of the cheese-making process, this was developed by the University of Vermont and now produced by Vermont Natural Coatings of Hardwick, VT. We use this finish on our oval rattle ends and an increasing number of other rattle parts.

   As with our other materials, our finishes are purchased as locally as possible. Nearly all are produced in Vermont, by people we know and have worked with for many years. If you would like more information about the finish on specific products, feel free to contact us.

Age Grading

   Just as we have an obligation to produce safe product, it is always important to remember that appropriate use goes hand-in-hand with safe design and construction. Whenever necessary, we mark our products with the intended age of the child who may be using it. Giving a more advanced product to a younger child, no matter how "advanced" you perceive that child to be, can be a hazard. A marking of age 3+ is typically an indication of small parts hazards—it could be a problem for younger children who may be putting things in their mouth. Always monitor younger children when they are playing around older friends and siblings. What is okay for one child may not be okay for the next.


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