Earlier this week I wrote about the recent problems with Chinese imports including the recall of millions of toys manufactured in China. The September issue of Good Housekeeping provides extensive details on the risk of lead-based toys to children, including long-term learning disabilities and even death. In Poisonous Lead Toys, the author places blame on the U.S. companies that utilize overseas manufacturers:
U.S. companies are buying these items from overseas manufacturers, most of them located in China, who use lead as a low-cost way of adding weight to items like charms. Since lead is also malleable, it can make flexible goods, such as vinyl lunch boxes and backpacks, more resistant to wear and tear. Companies that buy from these makers are either ignorant of this money-saving but dangerous ingredient or turn a blind eye to it.
The article suggests parents be wary of any jewelry made with metal, plastic cords and fake pearls. Also to be cautious of products made in China, where lead is often used in manufacturing. The biggest dangers are costume jewelry, metal key chains, painted toys (which could be covered in lead-based paint), vinyl bibs, vinyl lunch boxes, vinyl backpacks, and jackets with lead-based zippers or buttons.
From 1973 until 1995 federal regulations have banned high levels of lead paint in gasoline, house paint, and piping and soldering in water supplies, but there is no mandatory federal regulations to prevent lead in children’s products and toys. The only exception: toys with lead paint on them, which are regulated by the lead-in-paint law.
Senator Barack Obama and Congressman Henry Waxman did introduce the Lead Free Toys Act in November of 2005. This law would require the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission to ban children’s products with more than trace amounts of lead, but two years later that bill is still in Congress.