A recall has been issued for Thomas the Tank Engine wooden railway toys in Canada and the United States. About 1.5 million of the toys are present in homes across the U.S. and an addition 325 thousand in homes worldwide, including Canada.

RC2 Corp. issued the voluntary recall Wednesday after determining, with the help of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), that the paint used on the toys contained lead.

"Surface paints on the recalled products contain lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects," the CPSC said in a press release.

CPSC spokesperson Patty Davis said their first priority is to get the toys out of homes because prolonged exposure to lead is very harmful.

"We say that the dose is the poison," Davis told CTV Newsnet. "You want to make sure that your child does not have chronic exposure to high levels of lead ... you see behavioural problems, growth retardation, as well a brain damage that can occur."

Thomas the Tank Engine toys are extremely popular among young children, especially boys.

"It's a toy that is commonly shared among children's groups so you may take your child over to your friend's house and then your child may play with this toy and you may not be aware that this toy may be the subject of the recall," reporter Kyung Lah told CTV Newsnet on Thursday.

"This is information you do want to share with your friends, among playgroups and at daycare centres."

The recall includes wooden vehicles, buildings and other train set parts sold between January 2005 and June 2007.

According to Davis, the Chinese factory that produces the toys changed the type of paint used in January of 2005, causing the lead to be introduced into the product. She added that the CPSC is looking into all of China's product standards.

"Our chairman recently visited (China) within the past two weeks and met with top officials," she said. "We want to see China make a real effort to comply with U.S. safety standards and bring their own safety standards up to U.S. levels.

Not included in the recall are toys marked with the letters WJ or AZ.

The CPSC and RC2 Corp. said no incidents or injuries have been reported.

Recalled Product Names

  • Red James Engine & Red James' # 5 Coal Tender
  • Red Lights & Sounds James Engine & Red James' #5 Lights & Sounds Coal Tender
  • James with Team Colors Engine & James with Team Colors #5 Coal Tender
  • Red Skarloey Engine
  • Brown & Yellow Old Slow Coach
  • Red Hook & Ladder Truck & Red Water Tanker Truck
  • Red Musical Caboose
  • Red Sodor Line Caboose
  • Red Coal Car labeled "2006 Day Out With Thomas" on the Side
  • Red Baggage Car
  • Red Holiday Caboose
  • Red "Sodor Mail" Car
  • Red Fire Brigade Truck
  • Red Fire Brigade Train
  • Deluxe Sodor Fire Station
  • Red Coal Car
  • Yellow Box Car
  • Red Stop Sign
  • Yellow Railroad Crossing Sign
  • Yellow "Sodor Cargo Company" Cargo Piece
  • Smelting Yard
  • Ice Cream Factory