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Popular Local Kids Shoe Company Responds to Import of Lead Tainted Shoes

See Kai Run quickly reached out to customers after discovering some of its shoes were part of the tainted shipment from China.

See Kai Run, the popular children's shoe company based in Woodinville, wasted no time reaching out to customers about toxic levels of lead found in a shoe shipment Wednesday. The shoes were part of a shipment from China that was seized at the Port of Tacoma after tests showed the shipment exceeded the legal amount of lead.

Some 1,700 pairs of children's shoes contaminated with three times the legal limit for lead landed at a Seattle port on Wednesday, according to the Huffington Post. The $23,000 worth of footwear, made in China and destined for U.S. stores, joins a growing list of toxic consumer products -- from jewelry kits to toy robots -- that have been seized by customs agents recently.

The is the only retailer on the Island who carries children's shoes, but only retails second-hand items.

A photo of See Kai Run shoes was shown in a photo released by the customs agents. The shoe company’s Facebook page answered customers’ questions as soon as the photo was shown on Seattle television news casts Wednesday night.

“Tonight on a local Seattle news program, some See Kai Run boys' shoes were included in a story (although not identified) about imported products that contain excess lead according to the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Recently, as part of routine testing of shipments to the port of Tacoma, we learned that some of our spring shoes exceeded the maximum amount of lead in the dye used in some of our leather. The number of affected shoes is small and somehow escaped our rigorous testing procedures at our factories in China. We have been working closely with the CPSC and U.S. Customs to fully investigate this issue and took swift action to protect our customers from any possible danger. While all of the shoes discovered at the port never entered the country, we also took immediate action to remove any of the affected styles of shoes from retail stores, our website and our warehouse. Most of us at See Kai Run are parents and care deeply about providing completely safe and healthy shoes for all of the children who wear our shoes and we remain 100% committed to these goals.”

On Thursday night the company posted the following statement on its Facebook page:

“Thanks to all of you who took the time to share so many of your comments today. We have read and discussed every post. All of us at See Kai Run believe that nothing is more important than the health and safety of all of our children, and we have been taking this challenge very personally. As soon as we learned of the issue with our shoes, we acted with a great sense of urgency to follow every step according to the CPSC's instructions and have taken even more aggressive steps to protect our See Kai Run family of customers. We value the CPSC's role and we share its goals. All affected shoes have been, or will be destroyed. Based on the results of our third-party tests both here in the U.S. and in China, and the re-checking of shoes at our factories, we are convinced that we are facing an isolated problem from a small batch of leather that created this problem. We strongly believe that our See Kai Run shoes are safe! If you have any questions about your children's shoes, please contact Kat Klefstad in Customer Service at 425.481.8033, extension 0; or kat@seekairun.com. THE SEE KAI RUN TEAM.”

See Kai Run was founded in 2004 when local mom Cause Haun wanted something fun but functional for her son’s first pair of shoes. When she came up empty handed, she decided to create her own. Now, See Kai Run and Smaller are sold nationwide, including at Nordstrom,  in Woodinville and  in Bellevue. The shoes promote healthy development of little feet with flexible soles, soft leather and a wide toe box, and have been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Its of people who line up hours before the sale begins.

Mark Lipmanski June 11, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Can you "catch" lead by wearing it on your feet?
Carla Rodriguez June 11, 2012 at 05:44 PM
There is some level of dermal absorption, albeit small. The larger issue is that children often chew on all manner of things, including shoes. As such, ingestion becomes the primary mode for getting lead into a child's system. I know I've caught my kid chewing on his See Kai Runs.
Carla Rodriguez June 11, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Although, risk to developmental delays is typically associated by the child's blood lead level. Current science suggests blood lead levels of 10 ug/dL or greater to be associated with developmental delays. It is also this blood lead level that requires legal action for environmental remediation in homes that house children < 6 years of age. I used to work for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at the NYC Department of Health. NYC required all providers to test for lead in children by 2 years of age, and BLL >10 ug/dL is a reportable disease there; linked to an environmental investigation of housing. Washington state does not have such a requirement. The state DOH website suggests providers use their best clinical judgement to test for lead. FYI--blood lead screening is covered by medicaid. I just called to make an appointment for a blood lead test for my son--not just b/c of See Kai Run, but because our house is having some remodeling done. I think it's important for parents to not rely on their provider to pick up on potential environmental hazards b/c they don't necessarily know what's going on in your kids' environment! So, keep vigilant! If someone knows what a BLL of >10 ug/dL equates to in terms of ppm in a product, please share! I think this is a hard number to quantify b/c the real problem is exposure over time.
Kendall Watson June 11, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Thanks for all the great and informative information, Carla! It's a lot of responsibility to be a parent, isn't it?
Carla Rodriguez June 11, 2012 at 07:56 PM
It sure is! I am both excited and terrified by the challenge!

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