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In response to concern of parents around the country about the potential for lead (Pb) contamination in “Jelly Shoes” sold by Walmart, I decided to take a trip to Walmart with my friend Carissa from Creative Green Living and to bring with us an X-Ray fluorescence spectrometer (also called an XRF or an XRF Instrument), which is a scientific instrument used to test for heavy metals (including lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic) in consumer goods. The XRF instrument is the instrument most commonly used by the CPSC (the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is the United States’ federal regulatory agency for product safety) to test for lead (and other heavy metals) in consumer goods.
My son Avi wanted to come with us (for fun!). He’s also a bit of an expert on lead at this point! He is 12 years old and was acutely lead poisoned when he was just 7 months old.
I am trained and certified in using the XRF instrument and have used one for nearly 10 years to test for lead (and other heavy metals) in consumer goods. Using the search-bar on the home page of this website you can search for other items that I have tested for lead (try “baby bottles” and “shoes” and “dishes” to start!)
Below is the video and Facebook post with our “in real time” testing of the shoes and the results that we found (specifically that the shoes are, in-fact, lead-free!) that we shared on Facebook back in June of 2017. You can share it from here (as a blog post) or click on the image of the video below and share it directly from Facebook.
The Big Question: If these shoes are negative for lead, how come more than one parent has alleged that they are positive for lead? And that this was somehow supported by a blood lead test of a sample of blood taken from their child’s foot?
Answer: If your child lives in a city (or in a home or area) with lead hazards, they will pick up lead dust on their shoes. This is just a fact. It just takes a microscopic (invisible) amount of lead dust on a child’s shoe or foot for a heel prick blood test to come up positive for lead (especially if the doctor or nurse administering the test does not know to thoroughly clean the child’s foot before taking the blood sample for the test.) The lead on the child’s foot or shoe will contaminate the sample and will make the child’s test come out high. This does not mean there is lead in the shoe. It DOES MEAN that there is lead on dust on the child’s shoe and therefore lead in the child’s environment, and I would encourage parents to follow up a test like this with testing of their home for lead, testing of their child’s day care for lead and an inquiry into whether the local park or other areas where the child plays has been tested and found to have high levels of lead… because even if the child’s corrected blood lead level (a second level taken, for example, AFTER the child’s foot is thoroughly washed) comes back “low” or “negative”… the lead that was found in the initial sampling is still a concern and the source of that lead should be investigated to help prevent the child from testing positive in the future!
For those new to the issue, lead poisoning can cause countless medical complications for children, and one of those issues is brain damage. A wonderful article about the impact of low level lead exposure is HERE.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Your friend and fellow parent-advocate for the safety and health of children everywhere!
Mother of Lead Poisoned Children
“Unexpected Lead Expert”
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