Health Canada is ordering retailers in Ontario to pull tens of thousands of items off their shelves after finding they were selling lead-tainted toys and children's products, according to a report.

The Toronto Star reported Friday that Health Canada wants the retailers to get rid of the items, which officials say contain lead-levels in excess of allowable amounts. The lead-tainted items were sold in a variety of stores, including "dollar stores," and range from toys to products children put directly in their mouths, such as baby pacifiers.

According to the government of Canada's "Healthy Canadians" website, the recalled items include:

  • "My Baby" brand pacifier twin pack and silicone pacifier
  • Children's Charm craft kits ("Super Dooper Charms" and "Shoelace charms")
  • "GTZ Kool Charmz" charm gift bracelet
  • "Pop Pop Toy Boats," specifically, the 13-inch versions of the "Titanic" and "Hut"
  • "Fairy Dust Pendants" and "Candle Charms"
  • Orange "Mini Hockey Stick" with black painted lettering spelling out "Canada" on the shaft

In some cases, several thousand items of each of the recalled products, many of them manufactured in China, landed on store shelves, according to Health Canada.

For example, approximately 10,000 of the recalled pacifiers were sold in Canada, the agency reported in the recall notice for "My Baby" brand pacifiers. Health Canada has not received any reports of illness or injury due to the recalled products.

Can't force recalls: Clement

Last spring, the Conservative government introduced new consumer protection legislation, comprehensively overhauling Canada's food and product safety laws.

Health Minister Tony Clement spoke to CTV Newsnet on Friday by phone from Bracebridge, ON.

Clement said that he was "deeply disturbed" by the findings and he hopes to be able to do more when it comes to recalling products in the future.

"We have to have a regime where the health minister can enforce a recall - right now I have to request that a manufacturing company recalls its products," Clement said. "I want to have the power... to enforce a recall."

Gideon Forman of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment told CTV Newsnet on Friday that there is never a safe amount of lead because it is a "brain poison" that attacks the nervous system and lowers IQ.

"The generally accepted view in scientific literature is that there is no safe level of lead," he said. "Any amount, even a tiny, tiny trace amount can harm a child."

Forman said while parents call their doctors to check on their child's well-being, there should be another call they should make.

"There is also a political demand that should be made - our government should protect us from lead," Forman said. "In addition to calling your doctor, we should be calling out Members of Parliament (and) saying there should be a complete ban on anything that could come into contact with a child that has lead in it."

As for preventing children from getting their hands on toys with lead in them, Forman said there is no hard and fast rule, but he said parents are better off if they avoid imported toys and try to buy unpainted wooden ones that are locally made.