Though this year is considered to be somewhat safer than last when almost 14 million items were recalled for excessive levels of lead, there may still lead toys in the marketplace this holiday season.
In the first nine months of 2008, more than six million products have been recalled for lead.
Many of those items were removed from store shelves, although Consumer Reports says some are still available online and in a few stores.
The nonprofit group sent mystery shoppers into stores in seven states and was able to purchase only four of the lead-tainted products, while one was purchased on eBay.
Beginning in February 2009, the total lead content in any children’s product cannot exceed 600 parts per million (ppm). Six months later that level drops to 300 ppm under the new federal law. Previously, federal limits of 600 ppm applied only to paint or surface coatings on products.
Consumer Reports says, “That created a regulatory loophole allowing the sale of vinyl, metal, and plastic products with worrisome amounts of lead.”
What Consumers Can Do
It might not make a bad stocking stuffer – lead test kits for the home.
Consumer Reports recently reviewed the kits for accuracy.
Lead test kits will allow you to determine if lead is on the surface of items. Slightly scratch the surface to find the lead under the paint.
Three of the five home lead-testing kits were useful, Consumer Reports finds. They work by detecting surface or accessible lead, although Lead Check says you just have the scratch the surface to find lead under the top coat.
If any toys or jewelry test positive for lead, remove it from your children.
Homax Lead Check $8
Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit, $18.45
Made by the same company, these two kits use cigarette-shaped swabs that turn pink when they detect lead. Consumer Reports finds they were the easiest to use and identify accessible lead.
Find them on-line at: Lead check
Homax shows us how to test for lead with pictures and reminds us that even a liner of a lunch-box can contain lead.
Lead Inspector $13
This kit uses swabs too that turn yellow, brown, gray or black if lead is detected. This might be a good kit for painted metal jewelry, the consumer group finds. Also this kit is the preferred choice for items that are pink or red because they might not show up as well on Lead Check. Chemicals emitted from test kits should always require user to wear gloves and protect skin.
Find Lead Inspector online at: http://www.leadinspector.com/
First Alert $13
Consumer Reports say that there were a few false negatives with this test kit.
Find First Alert at their Web site:
Pro-Lab Lead Surface $10
Consumer Reports didn’t like this kit. Moistened paper used to check for lead often fell apart before the two-minute timer was over. Their web site has more.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) evaluated lead test kits last year, largely with negative results.
After using them on a variety of paints and other products containing different levels of lead, the CPSC found there were false negatives and false positives. Of the 104 total test results, more than half were false negatives and two were false positives.
None of the kits detected lead if the surface was covered with paint. #