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Recalls – Consumers Union on Lead IIShould Parents Test Children,Toys for Lead Contamination?

Posted Aug 26 2008 5:02pm

This is Part II of a three-part series on lead in toys. Below are Consumers Union’s answers to my questions that I suspect are on the minds of many parents.

Consumers_union DadTalk: Just how real of a threat is lead when it is found in children’s products?

Consumer’s Union: This is a very broad question, but the threat is real. One child died from swallowing a piece of lead jewelry. Others who may only chew on lead-painted toys may suffer less, but still measurable and permanent damage to their brain and nervous system that could affect how they do in school and relate to peers.

DadTalk: Is it currently legal for lead to be in children’s toys? Or is there just a government standard?

Consumer’s Union: There is a government standard for lead in PAINT that applies to toys, of 600 parts per million. We believe this 30-year-old standard is out of date and should be lowered. There is no standard for lead in toys that are not painted, such as jewelry or vinyl products. We think one should be established.

DadTalk: What kind of short-term and long-term harm can lead cause in children?

Consumer’s Union: Short-term problems in children can include IQ deficits. Long-term effects of lead are still being studied, but there is some evidence that nervous system-based diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may be associated with high lead levels. Since we don’t have a good understanding of what causes many of these nervous-system disorders, minimizing exposures to neurotoxicants like lead and mercury is simply a healthy thing to do.

DadTalk: How does the threat of lead in toys compare to choking hazards or powerful magnets that can be ingested?

Consumer’s Union: Both can be lethal. But you can’t always tell if a child has high lead levels since they may not display any clinical symptoms. The only way to know what your child’s lead level is, is to have them tested.

DadTalk: Should parents test their children for lead?

Consumer’s Union: They absolutely should – ideally at age 1 and again at 2. Children with elevated levels should be tested every year until age 6.

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