Originally published November 21, 2017
Updated December 9, 2019
Tamara Rubin is a multi-award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety, and a mother of Lead-poisoned children. Her infant and toddler sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in August of 2005. She began testing consumer goods for toxicants in 2009, and was the parent-advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017. She uses XRF testing (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants, including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Arsenic. [bio link]
How much Lead do these things have anyway?
Are rainbow makers safe for children?
When tested with an XRF instrument this hanging crystal rainbow maker was positive for 403,000 ppm Lead. Yes, that is more than 40% Lead! Are you surprised to learn that crystal can have so much Lead in it? Many people are, when they first find out! It’s quite common for people to not understand that “Leaded crystal” means that an item like this is actually made with an enormous amount of Lead! Instead of a primary ingredient being sand / silica (as with normal glass) a primary ingredient is Lead.
I put these in the “very unsafe” category, considering the way children interact with them (I have even seen a child put something like this in their mouth and children definitely may use them as fidgets if they have access to them!) Given the very high level of Lead in these, they can also create Lead micro-dust (just by hanging there) and, as a result will very often even test positive with a LeadCheck® swab!
How much Lead is “too much” Lead?
The amount of Lead that is considered unsafe in a newly manufactured-item “intended for use by children” is anything 90 ppm Lead or higher in the paint, glaze or coating, and anything 100 ppm Lead or higher in the substrate. The crystal of an item like this is considered to be the substrate; there is no coating on these (in most cases.) So with this particular example testing positive for more than 400,000 ppm Lead – that is a LOT more than 100 ppm Lead — and is decidedly unsafe for a child to play with!
Luckily there are now some Lead-free options out there!
Here are some link to a few Lead-free options on Amazon!* [Prices may change, and were current at the time of the original publication of this post, which was November of 2017.] Because Amazon links can change over time (and the exact product I found might not be linked below when you click on it), please do read the full product description when you click through on the links below (to ensure a Lead-free option is still at this link!)
- Oval one from Swarovski for $17.95
- Round one from Swarovski for $24.95
- A smaller round one from Swarovski for $14.85
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