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  • Toys Pose Lead Hazard to Children

    Toys are not an obvious lead poisoning threat in the eyes of many parents. However, recent findings indicate that children may be playing with toys that contain high amounts of lead. LeadCheck is a do-it-yourself lead testing kit that gives parents the ability to test toys and other household items for lead and protect their children from a lead hazard.

    Toys made of PVC plastic, also known as vinyl, contain toxic additives that can leach out and be ingested by children. PVC is very brittle, so a variety of plasticizers and stabilizers are used to make it more flexible and stable. A common stabilizer used in PVC plastic is lead.

    A 1997 report by Greenpeace USA sampled 131 toys and children’s products for lead and cadmium. More than 20 percent were found to contain greater than 100 parts per million of lead. In May, 1998, a news station based out of Seattle, Washington, had 26 toys tested for lead by an independent laboratory. Six of the toys tested positive for lead, and the lead content was far above the recommended federal standard (200 ppm) for lead in vinyl or plastic mini- blinds.

    According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 million children (almost 9%) of the 20 million children under age six in the United States, have blood lead levels above the “level of concern”. Even at low levels, lead poisoning in children can cause IQ deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavior problems, because its health effects are cumulative.

    The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces the Federal Hazardous Substance Act, under which toys or other articles that contain lead- based paint and are intended for children’s use be banned. Lead is not regulated in vinyl consumer products by the CPSC. Due to the lack of a safe federal standard, parents must assume responsibility to keep unsafe toys from their children. LeadCheck is an easy to use at home test, which allows parents to test any surface for lead and get the results instantly.

    Vinyl or PVC products that may contain lead include, but are not limited to, rain coats, umbrellas, clothing, backpacks, ponchos, school supplies, purses, sports equipment and toys. Parents should also be wary of “antique” toys that may be coated with lead-based paint. Recent product recalls due to the presence of lead-based paint included Mulan backpacks, GapKids anoraks and the decals on Oscar Mayer Wienermobile pedal cars. For more information about LeadCheck, please call 1(800)729-9029. For the Greenpeace report, “Lead and Cadmium in Vinyl Children’s Products”, call 1-800-326-0959.

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