Thursday, November 8, 2007

Playing in a federal Superfund site

Well this is not good news.

"These chips we're talking about - the Paulson brand - are made of 13 secret materials - closely guarded by their manufacturer but exposed in our lab tests.

Tests we showed to Will Humble - one of Arizona's chief health scientists and the former head of the state's lead poisoning prevention program.

'If you were to take chips like these and spread them out, 1000 of them on the ground, essentially it would be a federal Superfund site. That's how much lead are in these things.'"

I am keeping an eye on this breaking news report. One item in particular seems hard to believe "The highest in our lab tests: A Caesar's Palace chip - made by Paulson. It's 45 percent lead....750-times higher than the standard." I cannot believe that a chip that is 45% lead would be as light as those chips are. Haven't done the math but that seems not correct. I also find it hard to believe that this story is only now breaking since Paulson has been making chips for many decades and I would have assumed that health issues among dealers and cashiers would have surfaced by now if there are truly hazardous levels of lead in the chips.

Nonetheless, for the time being and until I hear more corroboration about this story, please take the simple precautions of not touching around your face while playing and washing hands after play. The future of the chip sets we use will be determined after more information is made available. So far there is very limited news coverage. I'm skeptical but cautious.


Ryan said...

Wow, that is HUGE! And INFURIATING!

I am so glad to NOT see Bellagio on that list...

Chuck said...

I assume that when they say that 45% is lead, they are referring to 45% of the paint mixture.

Sushi Cowboy said...

That was not a complete list. Sorry to break it to you but yes indeed the Bellagio uses chips manufactured by the industry leader, Paulson.

Been grousing around the Internets and so far the take seems to be that of "ho hum." Kinda like how the mercury amalgam in fillings comes up from time to time. There seems to be evidence that there is indeed lead used in the process of making the chips. Paulson relocated their plant to Mexico and some say that part of the reasoning was more lax regulations on using lead.

They have filings with the SEC disclosing that the state of California is suing them for not adhering to the state regulation on hazardous materials.

Discussion among the chip enthusiasts seems to echo the sentiment of "don't eat them or grind them up and snort them and you'll be fine."

I don't know if this thinking is more along the lines of "don't live next to power lines because the electromagnetic energy gives you cancer" or closer to "I know I will die from smoking but I'm going to enjoy the cigs while I'm alive."

It is worth noting that much of the information supplied is posted by a company who produced custom ChipCo ceramic chips which have no lead content.

Parent company of Paulson's stock is down 3-4% in after hours trading.

Good times.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Well at least they are doing a better job at PR than Absolute Gaming. They sent out a press release just hours after the news story broke. Nothing earth shattering or unexpected but at least they are addressing the issue with some spin. Important parts below:

On November 7, 2007, Gerard P. Charlier, President and Chief Executive Officer, issued the following statement on behalf of Gaming Partners International Corporation:

“GPI has manufactured gaming chips for use in casinos and card rooms for 85 years and has always operated in a responsible manner and we respectfully object to any implication or statement that our gaming chips may pose any health risk when used in their intended manner. As a matter of fact, we are not aware of a single reported case of lead poisoning resulting from the use of a gaming chip.

Although testing has proven the presence of lead in the chips, the mere presence of lead is not sufficient to conclude that there is a health risk. In fact, independent testing has also demonstrated that the simple handling of these chips would not produce any risk of health concerns to the consumer nor to the environment. The results that ABC15 has advertised in its promotion of the broadcast came from a laboratory destruction of the chip and not the intended consumer use.

During the past decade, we have reformulated the composition of materials to reduce lead levels in our chips. Our latest chips have only trace amounts of lead well below even the strictest applicable safety standards.”

Sushi Cowboy said...

The coast is clear. According to a press release by Paulson's parent company the results of a third party testing company said that there is no significant risk to using Paulson chips when used under normal circumstances. Take the source of the information as you will. They also mention the corroborating evidence that in the decades of use in casinos there has not been a case of lead poisoning reported. Furthermore, in 1997 they reformulated the chips to contain significantly less lead. Bellagio was opened in 1998 btw.

All Paulson chips will remain in circulation in our games. Still a good idea to wash hand after usage for standard hygiene reasons though.