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Toy Recalls: Get the lead out!

Posted Oct 22 2008 9:30pm

Yes, first it was a toxic Thomas and dangerous Dora, now its bad Batman.

As you may have heard, there was another major toy recall for toys manufactured in China. Today’s alert instructs families to throw away some 9 million Mattel toys due to loose magnets and lead paint: (click on Recent Recalls)

Given recent events, we thought we’d get you up to speed on lead and our suggestions for how keep your kids safe.

Q. What is the problem with lead anyway?

A. Lead is a metallic element which is a known neurologic toxin. When it became apparent that lead could cause significant harmful effects in humans, even at low levels of exposure, it was removed from gasoline and paints in the 1970’s.

Blood levels of 10 micrograms/dl or more are considered toxic and may have adverse health effects. Kids under six years of age are most sensitive because the lead can impact the developing brain.

Most children do not have any symptoms when they are diagnosed with mildly elevated blood lead levels. However, potential effects include developmental delays, loss of developmental milestones (especially in language skills), and learning difficulties. More serious health consequences are also possible, especially with higher toxicity levels and chronic exposure.

Q. How can my child be exposed to lead in the environment?

A. The most significant exposure risk is in children who live in homes built before 1978. Lead paint dust can be ingested by young children, especially when they spend time crawling on the floor and putting their hands in their mouths. Lead water pipes can also be a source of exposure.

Lead continues to be used in products (paint, pottery glaze, cooking products, pigment in cosmetics, crayons, paints, medications) throughout the world, particularly in developing countries. And, when these products are imported into the U.S, we may be exposed to them.

Q. What should I do if my child has toys that are recalled?

A. Odds are, your child has not had a significant lead exposure even if you have more than one of the toys lying around your playroom. It’s a little more concerning if your child was using one of these toys as a teething toy or really enjoys exploring toys with his mouth.

It’s probably wise to bring up your concerns with your child’s doctor, and get a blood lead level drawn depending on your child’s possible risk of exposure. If your child’s blood lead level is less than 10 micrograms/dL, toss out the recalled toys and call it a day.

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