Is there Lead in my diffuser?
Is that even a problem?
Why is that a problem?
One comment today (12/31/2018) on Facebook covered a lot of questions in one place, so I took a screenshot of that to use as a basis for answering some of the questions that have come up over my testing of essential oil diffusers. Hopefully this will be a good start and the conversation will continue in a productive way — ideally, in a way that may result in the companies removing Lead from their products.
Thank you for reading, for sharing my posts and for asking questions. Continue reading below the image to see my responses.
- The post about the doTerra diffuser containing Lead was published in February 2018. Someone shared something else (about a Young Living diffuser containing Lead tested this month) in a private group and that was screenshotted without permission and shared widely. The timing was not intentional or “coincidental” nor was it intended for public consumption.
- Finding levels of Lead in the 2,000 to 3,000 ppm range is in no way comparable to any “natural occurrence” of that HIGHLY neurotoxic metal. At those levels, the lead is definitely an intentional additive to the alloy mix for the component that was tested.
- For context/comparison: background levels of lead in soil (natural mountain and country soil – not contaminated city soil) that I have tested have been generally either completely negative or at least well below 40 parts per million (ppm). U.S. government agencies consider soil officially toxic for children at 400 ppm (and that level is in the process of being lowered.) The scientific community has long considered soil toxic for children at 100 ppm. Los Angeles County [leading the nation currently with the most up-to-date U.S. standards] considers soil toxic for use by children at 80 ppm and higher.)
- For additional context: consumer goods manufactured for use by children are currently regulated and considered toxic and unsafe (and illegal) for children if any component, or the item as a whole, tests positive for lead at 90 ppm Lead or higher in the paint or coating, or 100 ppm Lead or higher in the substrate (like the base metal or plastic of a consumer good.)
- Both points 2, 3 and 4 above hopefully clearly demonstrate that the levels of Lead found in these components is not some sort of inadvertent/unavoidable “contaminant”, but rather an intentional additive in the metal alloy used in manufacturing the component, and therefore it is inappropriate (and constitutes false advertising) for the companies manufacturing or selling these items to claim they are “Lead-free”.
- Please understand that it is a pernicious myth that “Lead is ‘naturally occurring’, and can be ‘found everywhere to some degree'” [historically originating and propagated as propaganda by the Lead industry, in fact!] Lead is a VERY heavy element, and is only primarily/normally/”naturally” found very deep in the earth; in its highly refined, super-neurotoxic form, all the Lead in our environment is a product of deep mining, heavy refining and manufacturing!
- There are hundreds of posts on this blog for items that are completely Lead-free (when tested with an XRF instrument), including at least one other essential oil diffuser that was completely Lead-free in all accessible components, LINK.
- The testing I used to find Lead in these diffusers was not an “at home test” as incorrectly alleged; I use a Niton XL3T X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. The instrument generally costs between $35,000 and $50,000 new, and is a precise, accurate, state-of-the art scientific instrument used by the largest aerospace and defense contractors and many government agencies (including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test for and correctly and accurately identify and quantify the levels of metallic elements toxicants (including toxicants such as Lead, Mercury, Arsenic and Cadmium) in raw metals and manufactured goods. I am factory trained and certified in using the instrument. When I do testing, I also verify my test results with multiple sets of tests AND I am always careful to freshly calibrate the instrument in advance of any testing that I report here on my blog. Decidedly not a “home test”, with the intended implied connotation of an unprofessional or unscientific/unreproducible anecdotal data point. Here is the link to my certificate.
- An “at-home test” (for example, a reactive agent swab test like the LeadCheck® swabs, accessible to and usable by any consumer) cannot be used to test for Lead in an item like this. The results of using a LeadCheck® swab are also not numerical (quantifiable) results. You can read more about that here on this link.
- I did not test “the water”. An XRF instrument does not test water. I do not need to test water to confirm this level of lead is present in a component of a metal and plastic consumer good (see more about why that is the case below.)
- Lead in WATER is measured in single digit PARTS PER BILLION (ppb) — not parts per million (ppm)
- Water is consider toxic at between one (1) and fifteen (15) parts per billion, depending on which federal standard you look at. [ONE part per million is ONE THOUSAND parts per billion.] The diffuser rings were found to have lead in the 2,000 to 3,000 + part per MILLION range. Translated to parts per billion, those levels are 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 parts per billion.
- For Lead-in-water to build up on a piece of metal to the level of 2,000,000 parts per billion (if that were even possible) it would have to be INCREDIBLY TOXIC water, and the family in that home would most likely be dead from Lead poisoning!
- As a result of items 10 – 12 above – the concern that a piece of metal could have been “contaminated” (to the levels that the washers have tested positive) due presumably to exposure to Lead-contaminated water – is… frankly… ridiculous — and would not at all be supported by any known science. As a result, I fully expect that brand new, right-out-of-the-box diffusers with the same internal metal components will likely have test results as quite consistent the ones I have tested.
- Each click on my blog posts gives me about ONE CENT — and I am super-thankful for that support of my advocacy work.
- The article does not state that the amounts are “less than amounts of harm or concern” as falsely stated – these levels of Lead found in any product are concerning to me (because of the impact on our planet of products being manufactured with leaded components), although I don’t know (nor imply) that it can be shown or demonstrated that any Lead is being diffused with the oils as a result of this one component being high positive for Lead, and I have definitely not asserted that this is likely or possible, simply that it has not been studied – and probably should be studied (or better yet, the company should just remove the Lead from their product and not have to bother studying it).
I think the above addresses every point in the comment above, which really also covers most of the other questions that have come up since this has gone viral.
To this I will add Amanda’s question (another reader) and my response:
QUESTION: Is it possible that the diffuser might still not release lead into the environment?
ANSWER: Yes – my educated guess is that it is likely not releasing lead into the environment, HOWEVER this has not been studied and it is my firm belief that there should be no Lead in any product designed / developed and sold with the intention of imparting health benefits.
As always, thank you for sharing and for reading my posts! While you are here have you looked up yet whether or not your dishes have lead? Just use the search bar and enter the brand name of your dishes and see the examples from that brand that I have tested to give you an idea of whether or not your dishes might have lead! Here are some keyword suggestions to start with (each is an active link to that category of posts on my blog): Spode, Wedgwood, Lenox, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Fiesta, Pyrex, Corelle – have fun with that!
Mother of Lead Poisoned Children