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Potential Lead Hazards in Children's Toys

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Published on Dec 25, 2014

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable and children should be kept away from any sources of the toxic heavy metal. Children under the age of 6 years old are considered to be at high risk for lead poisoning because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths.

Many parents may not realize that some toys may contain lead. Although there are regulations in the United States to protect children from lead in children’s products, some toys that have been made in other countries and then imported into the United States or antique toys and collectibles passed down through generations, may put children at risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared the following about two aspects of toy manufacturing that could expose children to lead. They include:

• Paint: Lead may be found in the paint on some toys. Lead was banned in house paint, on products marketed to children, and in dishes or cookware in the United States in 1978. But it is still widely used in other countries and therefore could still be found on some imported toys that make it to the U.S.

• Plastic: The use of lead in plastics has not been banned. Lead softens plastic and makes it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape. It may also be used in plastic toys to stabilize molecules from heat. When the plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air and detergents the chemical bond between the lead and plastics can break down and form dusts.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that with a few limited exceptions, all children's products manufactured after August 14, 2011, must not contain more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of total lead content in accessible parts. They also report that all children's products, including toys, and some furniture, must not contain a concentration of lead greater than 90 parts per million in paint or any similar surface coatings.

For parents concerned about imported toys or those manufactured before current regulations were put in place, there are lead testing professionals and certified laboratories that specialize in identifying lead and other hazardous materials.

These are just a few things to know about potential lead hazards in some children’s toys. To learn more about this or other health and safety, indoor air quality, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.

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