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Beware of Lead in Toys

By Connie Bobik

As I walk through the toy aisles at local stores, I can see the happy faces of children as they open packages on Christmas morning and play with their gifts.

I also think back to Christmas 2007 when millions of toys imported by American companies were recalled because they contained lead.

The Consumer Safety Product Commission continues to intercept thousands of imported toys and toy jewelry that have unacceptable limits of lead.

All of which makes me wonder how many tainted toys continue making it into the country undetected?

Lead in toys is primarily found in the paint. Although lead paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978, it’s still used in other countries for toy production.

It may also be found on older toys made in the U.S. before the ban.

Lead toys are dangerous because the effects of lead poisoning are not immediate and often go unrecognized because an increase in levels occurs over time.

It should be noted that playing with a toy with lead is not harmful unless the paint is ingested. Infants and children under age six are the most vulnerable because of their hand-to-mouth activity.

The greatest health risk is to brain development. Even low levels of lead can cause slowed development, behavioral problems, learning difficulties and an inability to pay attention.

The troubles might not be detected for months or years, making it a silent scourge.

It remains possible that some of the tainted toys from 2007 are still in circulation, especially in garage sales, internet sales and at flea markets.

Furthermore, it’s likely that some parents may not see a recall made on an item purchased.

That’s why parents should stay vigilant and make safe choices when buying toys for their children during the holidays and throughout the year.

Connie Bobik is an associate professor of nursing at Brevard Community College.