Zhu Zhu Pet Hamsters are hot this holiday, but are they toxic?

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zhuzhu.jpg

Unless you've been in an extended tryptophan coma for the the last few weeks, you've likely seen or at least heard of this years inexplicable "must-have" toy for the holidays: the Zhu Zhu Pet.

The Cabbage Patch critter for 2009 is a hamsteresque ball of fur that has the requisite demand and craze following it. Your kids need Zhu Zhu. They have to have Zhu Zhu.

But a San Francisco-area consumer watchdog group, Good Guide, is warning that hours of blissful play are not the only thing you get with Zhu Zhu. They warn gifting this toy comes with a risk of exposure to the cancer-causing metalloid antimony and hazardous levels of tin.

Good Guide says the Zhu Zhu stood out in testing because of the levels of antimony. The federal limit is 60 parts per million, but the firm says it found 93 parts per million in the fur, and 103 in the nose of Zhu Zhu, according to a Bay Area CBS News report.

"If ingested in high enough levels [it] can lead to cancer, reproductive health, and other human health hazards," said Dara O'Rourke, an associate professor of environmental science at U.C.-Berkeley, and co-founder of goodguide.com. "If these toys aren't even meeting the legal standards in the U.S. then I would say that it isn't worth the risk for me to bring it into my household."

Good Guide says the danger of the Chinese-made toys - though the company that makes Zhu Zhu is St. Louis-based Cepia, LLC. - is in contact with the mouth, which, of course, kids never do with toys.

Cepia released a statement saying the claim is as nonsensical as a furry robot craze and that their products have passed rigorous government and private testing. You can see their statement and claims below:

Product Testing

There is nothing like the massive recall of Chinese toys that's been all-too-common over recent holidays yet, but it's something to keep an eye on over the holidays.

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