Yesterday Brian left me a question I hadn't considered in the midst of all these toy recalls:
"What I'd really like to know as a parent is what is the danger really? How worried should I be? That's something that no company or regulatory body will tell you because they don't want to say "well it's not really a high risk" then get sued. I mean, will this lead come off in your hands, do you have to eat the toys, or what?"
And so I started wondering. If my Bean, who is 2 and therefore almost everything finds it's way into her mouth, were to chew on one of these toys for a few minutes...how much of a threat would it really pose? What are the risks, signs, and symptoms of lead poisoning?
So I went on a little web hunt today for answers, and shockingly, they aren't as easy to find as I had expected but they also weren't impossible. Here is some of the information and links I think will help you feel more informed:
First, this is the Center For Disease Controls information regarding lead poisoning in children.
The Mayo Clinic's article regarding Lead Paint Toy Recalls answers some basic questions. Here's an excerpt of the article:
Why is lead-based paint such a concern?
Lead is a natural element that's present throughout the environment. It's possible to breathe or swallow lead particles from chips of lead-based paint or contaminated food, water, dust, soil or other products. Although brief or limited exposure to lead-based paint or other sources of lead isn't likely to cause lead poisoning, exposure to even low levels of lead can be harmful over time — especially in children.
In extreme cases, lead poisoning may eventually cause speech, language and behavior problems, poor coordination and slowed growth. The most severe cases of lead poisoning may cause seizures, as well as permanent brain and kidney damage. Rarely, lead poisoning can be fatal.
Should I be concerned if my child played with a toy that's been recalled due to lead-based paint?
It's important to take toy recalls seriously. If your child has any toys that have been recalled, don't allow your child to continue playing with them — even if the toys look safe. Remember to keep the situation in perspective, however. Exposure to a recalled toy isn't likely to cause long-term problems, even if your child swallowed a paint chip from the toy. What's important is removing the toy — and any other sources of lead — from your home as soon as possible.
Dr. Sears (one of my favorite for parenting/medical advice) has a page dedicated to the effects and symptoms of lead poisoning and also mentions the misconception of lead in lead pencils:
HOW LEAD GETS IN
Children do not get lead poisoning from chewing on pencils. Pencil paint is non-leaded, and the "lead" is harmless graphite. The lead that poisons children comes from old paint, gasoline emissions, contaminated soil, contaminated water, and lead pottery.
CNN.com also has an article from the Mayo clinic that addresses lead poisoning on a more in depth level.
This CNNMoney.com Article was had some interesting information:
More recalls seen aheadand included a look at Wal-mart's response:
Americans should expect more Chinese-made toys to be recalled in the coming months, said the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
"If I were a betting person I'd bet on more lead paint recalls," CPSC Director of Information Julie Vallese told CNN. "It's clear that lead paint on toys is not isolated just to Mattel."
A retailer's reaction
Wal-Mart (Charts, Fortune 500) said that it immediately removed the relevant toys from shelves, and placed a sales block on all registers.
It said it was carrying accessories from Mattel's Barbie range and two of the three Fisher Price items - Geotracks Freightway Transport and 6-in-1 Bongo Band.
The chain has asked toy suppliers to re-submit testing documents for both existing toys and those on their way to the store, so that it will have the most up-to-date information about the toys on its shelves.
Wal-Mart has also hired independent laboratories to carry out 200 tests a day, focusing first on toys made for children up to the age of three, it said. Top of page
This contains a lot of Mattell CEO quotes about the situation.
Parenting Magazine has online advice on How to take toys away with less tears.
The U.S. Product Safety Commission(CPSC) website has information on all recalled toys and includes pictures of all toys. The site also allows you to search by Month, making it easy to search if you are worried you missed a recall and want to see all products recalled in August.
Here is a search engine dedicated to helping you find Made in the USA products (Please keep in mind that even 'Made in USA' products can contain smaller parts, etc from other countries)
I did want to point out that Mattel is not the only company having lead paint recalls, it is simply the one the media is choosing to focus on. While searching the CPSC's site I found these popular character metal tops, these children's watering cans (sold at Jo Ann Fabrics) and these adorable toy alphabet trains.
I also ran across the article, "Top 20 things that are more dangerous to children than lead paint in Mattel toys". I find it a bit fanatical on some fronts, but I fully admit that could be my own dulled senses and consumer stupidity. I do find a few of these to be terrifying.
I hope this will help you feel more informed, more in control and provide a place to find some information.
If you have any links you think should be added please leave them for me in the comments!