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Holiday Season and Lead in Childrens Toys

It’s been a few years now since we had the massive recalls of toys because of lead. I can remember, a few years back, walking around a big box store with a Dora the Explorer doll in my hands for a friend’s daughter. I saw the checkout lines and knew I’d be late for my next appointment if I waited in line to buy her. I put the doll back and went off to my job. Little did I know at that time that the doll would be recalled less than a week later. Her face was painted on with lead containing paint! I was never so relieved. Can you imagine an environmental consultant buying a toy for a child that had lead paint! It goes to show you that it can even happen to the experts.

I’m glad to say the US seems to have gotten a tighter rein on imports, especially on imported toys, but you should still be cautious. Holiday movies showing antique toys always look impressive, but it’s those antique toys that may contain lead based paint. That doesn’t mean you need to throw them out, but you may want to keep grandpa’s old toy fire engine on a shelf away from little hands for admiration instead of play.

Also, used toys or toys purchased at thrift shops can be a big problem. Make sure to check the CPSC’s website (Consumer Product Safety Commission, www.cspc.gov) BEFORE purchasing toys at a thrift shop or second-hand store. Toys that were construed as being “too much of a hassle” to return may have very easily found their way to thrift stores. Often these stores do not allow you to return merchandise. The same goes for buying toys at garage sales or church bazaars.

If you’re not sure about some of the toys your child is playing with, there are some simple measures that can be taken as precautions. First, make sure your child washes his or her hands before eating. Secondly, if possible wash the toys in hot soapy water at regular intervals. Check the CPSC website to see if your child’s toy has been recalled. If a toy is recalled, remove it from your child’s environment immediately. If the recalled toy has been gnawed on or if you’ve seen your child mouthing the toy, have your child’s blood lead check. Also you can call a certified lead professional to test your child’s toys with an XRF (x-ray fluorescence – a non-destructive means of testing for lead based paint.) Keep in mind there is usually a fee for this service.

Some links to check out:
www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/toys.htm – Center of disease control tips pertaining to toys with lead
www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerel.html – Consumer Product Safety Commission recall list

 

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