LeadSafeMama’s Take on Oprah’s Favorite Things, 2018.
Curious, I took a look at Oprah’s Favorite Things list today (Saturday, 11/10/18) on Amazon.
Oh MY — some interesting things!
As I scrolled through the things and watched the videos she has embedded in the list, I realized there were some things on that list I would NEVER, EVER considering buying — unless I could test them for Lead myself (or unless the company had third-party testing documentation confirming without question that the items were in fact actually Lead-free)!
Then I thought for a minute; I realized you all might be interested in learning which items I would have concerns about, and why I would not consider purchasing one of those particular items (i.e. why I would have concerns for Lead in those specific items — when they are newly-manufactured products being sold in the U.S.A. in 2018).
So without further ado, I bring you:
“Tamara’s List” — reviewing the most potentially “Lead-sketchy” things
on Oprah’s Favorite Things List for 2018.
Disclaimer: I have NO IDEA whether or not any of these items actually do, in fact contain Lead — rather, this is a small subset of the items on Oprah’s Favorite Things List about which I would always have Lead concerns in general, for one reason or another – based on some or all of the following considerations:
- My extensive experience testing many similar items or an entire class of similar items — ceramic mugs or water bottles, for example.
- Concerning details that are depicted in the images of these items — for example, a handmade-looking ceramic item. Many imported handmade ceramic items I have tested have been positive for high levels of lead (even some that have been marked “lead-free”!)
- Concerning statements in Oprah’s description of the item (brass items she intends to purchase for girls she works with.)
- Concerning statements (or lack of specific statements) in the manufacturer’s product descriptions on the linked Amazon ad. For example, a “hidden” inclusion (buried waaay down in the product description) that a product is intended for “women” [such language is often a veiled attempt to indirectly satisfy the “not intended for children” loophole-qualifying declaration requirement!]
Each of the items I have chosen (see below) are good examples of things you can’t know/can’t be certain about without testing them via scientific methods (methods including XRF testing or destructive sampling.)
I would love to test all of the items that I have chosen from this list (shown below) to see which may be Lead-free and which actually are positive for Lead (or Cadmium, etc.). If you would like to sponsor this effort by buying one of these items and having it sent to me for testing, that would be terrific (let’s do it this week!)!
If you do sponsor this initiative by buying an item to be sent to me for testing, you can choose what you would like me to do with the item once it has been tested; I can have it sent back to you (return postage requested), we can return it to the vendor for a refund, or we can give it away as a prize in my Facebook Group (only IF the items is lead-free!)
I have created an Amazon wish-list for just these items [So you can see what is left that hasn’t been bought and sent to me yet]. Link Here.
There are EIGHT items on this list!
This Doggy Spa Kit raises the following concerns (from a toxicity perspective):
- The bucket is painted.
- Because the bucket was likely not made or marketed as an “item intended for use by children”, it is not subject to regulations by the CPSC that would otherwise limit the allowable level of lead in the paint.
- As result of the points above, the paint on the bucket may be high-lead (as is often the case with painted metal items).
- If this item does have lead paint on it, it would not be considered a violation of any law – as it would likely fall into the category of being a decorative item and decorative items are not regulated for toxicants.
- Because the bucket is small and cute it is very likely that the recipient of this gift might give this bucket to a child for them to play with it (regardless of the fact that it is not being sold and marketed as a child’s toy.)
To see other buckets I have tested, Click Here.
- These are ceramic mugs.
- Most ceramic mugs I have tested have been positive for at least some level of Lead (and many are also positive for Cadmium and Arsenic.)
- There is no regulation limiting total Lead content, as detectable with an XRF, in functional ceramics in the United States today.
- When there are many different colors in a set, there tends to be a much higher likelihood of Lead or Cadmium in at least one of the colors.
Why are these a concern:
- Iridescent paints are always a concern (for instance, in almost all of the Mardi Gras beads I’ve tested over the years!)
- Iridescent paints on glass are quite often Leaded (as with many marbles.)
- Most colors in glass items are enhanced or created by metals, and this often includes toxic heavy metals (like Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Arsenic). This is even the case for newly manufactured items — especially if they are not items specifically manufactured for use by children (hence the “red flag” of any disclaimer label that reads, “not intended for use by children” — that, similar to a CA Prop 65 warning, usually signals the possible or definite presence of Lead!)
- Many ceramics have at least some level of lead.
- If the ceramics manufacturer does not specifically claim in their advertising that their products are Lead-free, I always like to test the products before choosing or recommending them, as the XRF-detectible level of Lead content is not currently regulated by our government agencies.
What are my concerns with this pitcher? Same as the above ceramic platters and mugs.
- I have the same concerns as I do for the ceramic items above.
- It is made in Peru, which is concerning all by itself in an item that appears to be ceramic and handmade. Imported handmade ceramic items often have glazes that are high in Lead. This is especially true of items from Mexico, Central America or South America, including items (originating from those regions) that are clearly marked “lead-free”.
- It is being marketed (by Oprah and by the manufacturer) not as an explicitly dedicated food-serving item (which would at least be subject to leach-testing), but rather as a general/multi-purpose item “multipurpose pitcher and flower vase” — and given flower vases are not regulated at all for toxicity – this was a red flag for me.
Item #6: BBQ Set in Metal Bucket.
My concerns for this bucket of BBQ sauce:
- It is obviously a food item.
- From the photo it appears the bucket might be galvanized metal — which can be high Lead.
- It’s possible that the painted markings on the outside of the bucket are Lead paint — because Leaded paint is often used when the the painted surface is metal (especially for an item like this that is not regulated for toxicity at all because it is likely classified by the manufacturer as a decorative item – not a function food preparation item.)
- Because it is (contextually here) being promoted for use in the kitchen, it is likely that this bucket cold wind up being used for food storage purposes or kitchen-related storage. I don’t think there should be any Lead on item item in the kitchen, so I would definitely want to test this.
Gold plated BRASS bracelets, specifically marketed to girls.
This item on Oprah’s Favorite Things list was my inspiration for writing this post!
- These are marketed specifically to girls — based on the language from Oprah and in the company’s listing.
- Down near the bottom of the listing page, the “Department” listed for these items is “Women” (not “girls“!) [See image below] I am assuming this is so the company can say they were not marketing it to children and it is “not intended for use by children” (because it is possibly high in Lead or Cadmium.)
- They clearly state in the product description that they are made of brass.
- Brass is almost always high lead.
- They are plated (with gold) — but plating can peel, chip, or wear, exposing the brass substrate.
- Girls often fidget with their jewelry and a common fidget behavior is to put the jewelry in the mouth.
- Lobster claw clasps that are not advertised and/or stamped as sterling silver are often high Lead and considered a poisoning risk for small children — as they can be swallowed.
I am actually really the most curious to test these. I hope they are lead-free, but I would never make that assumption based on the information provided by Amazon and Oprah about this product.
To see my guidelines for finding Lead-free jewelry, Click Here.
See images below to see how the product is marketed specifically to girls (and how they are clearly marketed as being made of brass):
Item #8: Insulated Water Bottles.
If you follow my blog, you know how I feel about most insulated water bottles! While I love the idea of the bottom pocket, I have the following concerns about this product:
- Most insulated stainless water bottles have a leaded sealing dot on the bottom under the bottom cap.
- In the case of this water bottle they have made the bottom cap a functional accessory.
- This makes me wonder what is covering the sealing dot if the cap is not permanently affixed (if, in fact, they use construction with this that incorporates a Lead sealing dot.)
- The only way to find out if an item like this has accessible Lead is to test it.
To see the my tips for finding a Lead-free water bottle, Click Here.
Note To Oprah: If you hire me as a consultant on your product choices next year, you can avoid these concerns altogether! 😉 As a mother of Lead-poisoned children (outside of this “toxicity in consumer goods” question), I would love to meet you and tell you my story (and ask you to watch the rough-cut of my documentary film too!) 😉
Note To My Readers: as always, thank you for reading and for sharing my posts. Thank you for your ongoing support of my work.
Please let me know if you have any questions!