Lead and Other Toy Dangers

Shocking recalls are happening every day on toys that most children have right in their own toy boxes, containing dangerous levels of lead that can lead to developmental problems or even death. Toys are also being recalled for safety reasons such as choking hazards and more. During the Christmas season, more toys are purchased than any other time of year, and Christmas shoppers this year are concerned about which toys are safe for children, and how they can protect the ones they love.

Recent studies have found dangerous toys still on store shelves in the U.S.

Toys testing positive for high levels of lead and toys with small loose parts, poorly attached magnets and other hazards are still found on store shelves! It is important that parents be watchful, educate themselves and make wise purchases this shopping season. Parents also need to be familiar with the toys that their children currently have. You will not be able to identify lead by simply looking at a toy. You can purchase inexpensive lead testing kits that could possibly save your child’s life, however these tests do not indicate how much lead is present and their reliability at detecting low levels of lead is uncertain. Only a certified lab can accurately test a toy for lead.

Lead may be used in two aspects of toy manufacturing.

Paint: Lead may be found in the paint on toys . It was banned in house paint, on products marketed to children, and in dishes or cookware in the United States in 1978; however, it is still widely used in other countries and therefore can still be found on imported toys. †It may also be found on older toys made in the United States before the ban.

Plastic: The use of lead in plastics has not been banned. It softens the 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 breaks down and forms a dust.

If you are concerned that your child has been exposed to lead, remove the toy immediately according to the National Center for Environmental Health. Your physician can perform a blood lead test and recommend treatment if your child has been exposed.

While shopping for toys, it may seem simple to avoid toys made in China, but companies, not countries make toys. Factories in China are tested for lead use and other dangers, but testing is only random. To best protect your children, start by looking for toys that are age appropriate for your child. Toy packages will give an age range for each toy. Toys such as Laugh and Learn Kitchen Toys have recently been recalled due to pieces of the clock or faucet coming off and causing choking in children.

Toys containing magnets also pose a risk for young children. Mattel recently recalled their Doggie Day Care Magnetic Toys due to the magnets coming loose. If one or more magnets are swallowed, the magnets can attract to each other and cause intestional perforation or blockage, which can be fatal. Remember that lead is not the only toy hazard dangerous to children.

You can check for all recalls on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission web site where you will find a full list of all toys that have been recalled for any safety reason.

Shop smart and you are giving your child the best shot at staying safe and lead free this holiday season.