Lead is a naturally occurring metal. It is abundant, inexpensive and easy to work with (lead can be melted over a camp fire). Lead and lead compounds have been used since prehistoric times for a variety of purposes including wine storage, paints, ceramics, solder, pipes, gasoline, batteries, glass, fine crystal and even cosmetics.
Symptoms of lead poisoning range from fatigue and behavioral problems to learning and cognitive disabilities to brain damage and kidney damage and even death.
Lead is especially dangerous to children because of their smaller body size and developing nervous systems. Even low levels of lead exposure have been associated with measurable changes in children’s mental development and behavior, including hyperactivity; deficits in fine motor function and hand-eye coordination; slowed reaction time; and lowered IQ. The most recent research shows that even blood lead levels once considered safe are in fact hazardous. There are no safe levels for lead exposure.
Since 1980, federal and state regulatory standards have helped to reduce the amount of lead in consumer products and occupational settings. Today, the most common sources of lead exposure in the United States are lead-based paint in older homes, contaminated soil, household dust, drinking water, lead crystal, and lead-glazed pottery. Lead poisoning from toys is very rare, that’s why the presence of lead in so many popular, mass produced toys came as such a shock.
Currently, lead levels in toys may not exceed 300 ppm.
The United States Consumer Procduct Safety Commission maintains a list of recalled toys. If your child has a toy on this list, take it away from your child immediately. If the toy contains lead, get your child’s lead levels tested. This is a simple blood test that can be done at a doctor’s office.
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