Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks uses Bauer sticks. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)
A popular stick used by thousands of children across North America has been found to have dangerously high levels of lead in the paint on them, THN.com has learned.
The Nike-Bauer 150 Jr. Supreme stick, which retails for anywhere from $79 to $129 in Canada and the United States, was recently tested by Health Canada and the lead content in the sticks exceeded Health Canada’s acceptable limit of 600 parts per million.
That will likely lead to a full recall of all Nike Bauer Jr. Supreme 150 sticks, but at the moment there is only a “stop sale” edict from Health Canada, meaning retailers have been ordered to remove all the sticks from their shelves in Canada. A spokesman for Bauer Hockey said the company is testing all of its sticks for lead levels in the paint and will recall or pull off the shelves any of those whose lead content exceeds acceptable levels.
“We are doing the right thing and testing all our sticks,” said Steve Jones, director of global communications for Bauer Hockey. “We are being proactive on this. Right now, we’re focusing on taking Health Canada’s advice on the Nike-Bauer 150 Jr. Supreme sticks and we’re doing additional testing and will do the right thing for the player.”
The sticks that are currently under scrutiny were manufactured in 2006 and went to market in 2007. At that time, the company was owned by Nike, Inc. The hockey division of the company was bought in 2008 by a group of investors led by Kohlberg & Co., and Canadian businessman W. Graeme Roustan for $200 million.
But the unsettling aspect of all of this is that nobody knows how many Nike Bauer sticks or those from other manufacturers might be contaminated with too much lead in their paint. All Nike-Bauer and Bauer sticks are manufactured in China, where there has been a litany of products and toys discovered to have dangerously high levels of lead in their paint. Easton, the No. 1 manufacturer of hockey sticks in North America ahead of Bauer, has factories in both Mexico and China.
There has been no “stop sale” or recall issued in the United States, but it’s likely that will happen since acceptable levels of lead in paint are lower there than in Canada.
While it’s unlikely a young hockey player would ever contract lead poisoning from using one of the sticks, it is possible for the transfer of lead from the paint to the skin or blood stream to occur. If a player handles the stick with sweaty hands, something that would happen often, the transfer could take place and if the player then put his/her hands to his/her mouth or eyes, the lead could then be ingested by the player. Also, young hockey players sometimes have been known to rest the top of their sticks in their mouths, which could transfer the lead from the paint and it could also be transferred if a player were to be hit with the stick in his/her mouth.
Jones said all aspects of Bauer sticks are regularly tested to ensure they meet safety standards.
“We have very stringent standards when it comes to potentially hazardous material,” Jones said. “That’s why it came as such a surprise to us that these sticks didn’t pass the test.”
Jones said a third party has been hired to test all Bauer sticks from 2006 until now and he acknowledged it’s possible other sticks under other Bauer brand names could be found to have unacceptable levels of lead in the paint since only the Jr. Supreme sticks were tested by Health Canada. Jones also said it’s difficult to determine how many Jr. Supreme sticks might still be on the market or how many have been sold.
“We have tested our current sticks and I can tell you there have been no issues with the Vapor and Supreme sticks that are currently on the market,” Jones said.