Introduction (for those new to this website):
Tamara Rubin is a federal-award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children, her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005. Since 2009 Tamara has been using XRF testing (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals), including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic. All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times, to confirm the test results for each component. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023.
When tested with an XRF the stickers pictured here had the following reading (likely the inks in the paper and possibly the glitter as well):
- Lead (Pb): 6,385 +/- 87 ppm
- Arsenic (As): 132 +/- 43 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 32 +/- 7 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 566 +/- 35 ppm
This is especially horrific for me, as I clearly remember playing with stickers just like this at my grandparent’s home 40 or 45 years ago. I remember the embossed texture of the paper. I remember licking the stickers and putting them on things (making artwork collages, decorating shoe boxes, etc.). These were clearly designed to be interacted with by young children yet are toxic to such an extreme (especially given the intended use) that they should NEVER have been played with by any young children ever.
The amount of Lead that is considered unsafe in an item intended for use by children (by modern standards) is anything 90 ppm Lead or higher in the paint or coating and anything 100 ppm Lead or higher in the substrate. These stickers are toxic by any measure.
Of course, the refrain when I publish something like this (a vintage item that many of us remember playing with as very young children) is “Hey, well… it can’t be that big of a problem… because look at me… I turned out fine!” Here’s a link with my response to that set of considerations.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Please scroll down to see all of the images!
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