When tested with a Niton XL3T XRF instrument in consumer goods mode this blue and white vinyl Dritz brand measuring tape (pictured here, marked “Germany” and “Dritz”, purchased by my friend 15 or 20 years ago, c. 2000) had the following readings:
- Lead (Pb): 1,372 +/- 59 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 2,234 +/- 82 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 128 +/- 19 ppm
- Bromine (Br): 12 +/- 6 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 2,560 +/- 90 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 49,500 +/- 2,700
- Metals not listed were not detected, tests results are replicable – tests were done for a minimum of 45 seconds each to confirm the results.
Continue reading (including learning more about lead-free options!) below the image.
From my earlier posts about vintage measuring tapes:
To learn more about XRF testing, Click Here.
Why is this a problem?
The reason this is truly concerning for me is because so many doctors give these to babies to play with when they are visiting the doctor office for their various checkups (and having their head circumference and other parts measured!)
Usually when a baby is given one of these to play with – it ends up in the baby’s mouth (as it has the perfect texture for chewing!)
The amount of Lead that is considered unsafe in an item intended for children is anything 90 parts per million (ppm) or higher in the paint or coating or anything 100 ppm Lead or higher in the substrate. These measuring tapes usually come in at levels far above 90 ppm when tested with an XRF instrument. The vintage vinyl measuring tapes often also test positive with a reactive agent swab test, which means the Lead is likely available on the surface of the item (not necessarily locked in the substrate as it may be with many hard plastic vintage items – for example.)
What can we do about this? Are there safe options?
To see more items I have tested with an XRF instrument, Click Here.
Recently many doctors have switched to Tyvek style measuring tapes (not the heavier duty vinyl tapes like this one), which I have not yet tested for lead, but I think (educated guess) these are likely to be lead free (they are advertised as non-toxic and used by hospitals.)
I have had lots of conversations about this online with my friends, fans and followers and there seem to be quite a few alternatives that are likely also lead-free… including uncoated cotton fabric ones and paper ones (as well as the tyvek style ones noted above.) I was not able to find the fabric or paper ones on Amazon, but I believe many sewing specialty stores carry them.
Here’s another link to one a friend of mine found (Thank you, Shelley!) … it advertises that it is lead-free/ eco-friendly. I tested this exact product and confirmed that it is in fact lead free and cadmium free (as are other products by this manufacturer!)
Overall Takaway about Vintage Vinyl
Items made for use by adults should not be given to babies to play with!
Vinyl may or may not be leaded, so (in general) vintage vinyl items should be avoided and vinyl items should never be given to children to play with, especially children who might put these items in their mouths.
To Note: We have new vinyl windows that we had installed in our home in April of 2007. These are lead-free (as tested with an XRF), showing that not all vinyl contains lead, but again – it’s hard for most consumers to know.
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Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.