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/Morry Gash Glen Loyd holds toy maze.

Puzzle has blob of mercury

The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection warned parents and retailers Wednesday about a potentially dangerous toy.

A plastic maze containing mercury was recently found on the shelves of two Madison-area toy stores. Typically, maze puzzles contain a solid metal or plastic ball which rattles around inside the maze. But, investigators found that mercury - a hazardous metal - was in one maze puzzle.

At room temperature, mercury is a thick liquid that creates blobs as it passes through the maze, said Glen Loyd, an Agriculture Department spokesman.

"It's real entertaining - kind of like chewing gum for the eyes - but it could definitely be dangerous if a child broke the plastic maze and the mercury got out," he said.

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Prolonged exposure to mercury or mercury vapors can permanently damage the brain or kidneys. Mercury also poses a danger to unborn children.

Loyd said the mazes containing mercury carry no brand name or manufacturer.

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Investigators were told by the toy's distributor that the items may be available elsewhere in Wisconsin, Loyd said.

The Agriculture Department plans to issue a permanent ban on the toy shortly. In the meantime, parents are warned to get the maze out of children's hands immediately and call the department's hot line (800)422-7128.

Retailers are also asked to check their stock and contact the department if they discover they have the product on hand. Retailers and parents are cautioned not to simply throw the toy away because mercury may also contaminate landfills and water supply.

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