Companies that make or distribute toys, zippers and other children's products will face tougher government scrutiny to keep out any lead...

WASHINGTON — Companies that make or distribute toys, zippers and other children’s products will face tougher government scrutiny to keep out any lead that could poison and kill children or harm their brain development.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed, in response to legal pressure, to instruct importers and manufacturers to provide health and safety studies if any lead might be found in their products for children.

“Parents still need to be vigilant about the recalls on products marketed to children that might contain lead, and take those products away from children as soon as they are recalled,” Jessica Frohman, co-chair of the Sierra Club’s national toxics committee, said Sunday.

The EPA’s action is part of a settlement the agency signed Friday with the Sierra Club and another advocacy group, Improving Kids’ Environment. The EPA also must tell the Consumer Product Safety Commission “that information EPA has reviewed raises questions about the adequacy of quality-control measures by companies importing and/or distributing children’s jewelry.”

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While the EPA can ban a substance such as lead, only the Consumer Product Safety Commission has the authority to ban a product.

The Sierra Club last year petitioned the agencies to monitor and ban the making of any children’s jewelry that contains lead. After the EPA rejected the petition, the two groups sued the agency.

The lawsuit followed the death of 4-year-old Jarnell Brown of Minneapolis, who died last year from acute lead poisoning by swallowing part of a charm bracelet distributed by Reebok International. The child’s death was ruled accidental, but Reebok recalled 300,000 of the silver-colored, Chinese-made bracelets — found to be 90 percent lead — that the company had given away with its shoes.

In December, the safety commission began taking steps to ban children’s jewelry containing more than 0.06 percent lead by weight — about one ounce for every 100 pounds. The commission’s decision came after it had recalled more than a dozen products out of concern about lead.