Introduction (for those new to this website):
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-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 tested. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
Updated: Monday — May 29, 2023
If you are a member of the press, and interested in writing more about the issues covered in the Lead Safe Mama, LLC New York City Subway PSA campaign, please e-mail: Press@LeadSafeMama.com (with “Press Inquiry” in the subject line). Below is our official press release (PDF is followed by the typed-out text) related to the Lead Safe Mama, LLC New York City Subway PSA campaign.
While I could summarize the press release below in one single statement (“I am frustrated – and pissed off that – in 2023 – there has been virtually no government action in the area of eradicating Lead-contaminated baby feeding products, so I decided to raise $90,000+ and ‘take it to the streets’ — to bring the information directly to parents to raise awareness”) — a more restrained press release is below.
PDF of Press Release
(Click to see it full-sized)
Text of Press Release
“Why is a small business from Portland, Oregon running a PSA campaign for consumer goods safety and Lead Poisoning Prevention in the New York City Subways?”
The independent consumer goods testing Lead Safe Mama, LLC conducts has led to FIVE product recalls (for Lead hazards) in the past 12 months. These include the Bindle Bottle Water Bottles (from Oprah’s Favorite Things list), Cupkin Children’s Cups (marketed and sold as Lead-free but positive for 500,000 ppm Lead in one component), Green Sprouts Stainless Steel Baby Bottles, NUK Glass Baby Bottles (with Lead-painted white and gray stars decoration), and the Jumping Jumperoo indoor play gym toy (containing Lead-paint).
In spite of Lead Safe Mama’s effective work in getting these products recalled, more than a dozen other children’s products that we have discovered to have unsafe levels of Lead have yet to be recalled. Since the CPSC has not recalled many of these products — though reported to the commission yearly from 2017 to 2023 — they are still in use in homes across the United States (and beyond) today.
With the CPSC’s inaction/slow action in this matter (especially as it relates to baby-feeding products — including Lead-contaminated baby bottles, baby food storage, breast milk-storage products, children’s cups, children’s water bottles, etc.), Lead Safe Mama, LLC decided to try a new tactic in drawing attention to this issue. This attention is required in order to precipitate enough awareness, generate political will, and finally enact the long-overdue, broad-sweeping legislation that would make it illegal to use ANY Lead in feeding products for children.
We chose the NYC Subways to run this PSA campaign because the audience is significant (in terms of the sheer number of people who will see this information) and is comprised of people from all walks of life — including many who may be concerned enough with the issue (and serving in the appropriate professional capacities) to take direct action in pressuring CPSC-issued recalls.
“But doesn’t the CPSC already regulate this issue?”
Yes… ostensibly, the CPSC limit on Lead in the paint or coatings of children’s products is 90 ppm Lead. The limit for Lead in any component of the substrate of a children’s product is 100 ppm Lead. Unfortunately, the CPSC has not taken swift action on this matter across the board (the products pictured in the campaign range from 3,000 ppm to over 40,000 ppm Lead in the painted coatings/ decorative markings); and yet, somehow (it appears) manufacturers see these violations as not covered by the limits imposed through the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
“Why do some of the NYC Subway PSA panels have images of Lead-glazed dishes and Lead-painted vintage glassware?”
We chose to include images of vintage items alongside images of new Lead-painted baby bottles for two reasons: 1) to engage the public in a conversation in which we acknowledge how this is a well-documented problem of the past as well as a problem of the present, and 2) to engage different demographic segments in the conversation by presenting items people of all ages may recognize that are commonly used for eating and drinking and have unsafe levels of Lead.
“Who is Tamara Rubin?”
Tamara Rubin is a multi-federal-award-winning environmental activist and a documentary filmmaker. Tamara has aBachelor of Fine Arts from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and her work as an activist (particularly in this case) is fundamentally in the realm of cause-based multi-media art (both online and site-specific installation “IRL”). She combines visual imagery (photography of toxic products), written word, and indisputable science to encourage members of the public to engage in a discourse about corporate accountability, legislative loopholes, and the need for consumers to be personally responsible for the objects we allow into our homes and lives. Tamara’s work also includes looking out for toxic products in the absence of appropriate regulatory standards. While her work has been covered in most major U.S. media outlets since first becoming an advocate for Lead Poisoning Prevention (after her children were acutely poisoned in 2005), she was most recently featured in a profile about her consumer goods safety work in the March 2023 print issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
If you are a member of the press interested in writing more about Lead in consumer goods, please text or e-mail Lead Safe Mama, LLC via Press@LeadSafeMama.com. Text is best through 7/14/2023.
Some additional facts about this PSA campaign
- The PSA campaign includes 2,000 printed images with four different designs (each of which can be seen below).
- There are 6,000 active subway cars in the New York City Subway, so this will result in one panel in every third subway car.
- The cost of the campaign (including photography, administration, and the direct fees to print the 2,000 panels and place them in the NYC subway cars for more than four weeks) is just over $90,000. This $90,000 was contributed to Lead Safe Mama, LLC by a sponsor specifically in support of this initiative.
- The campaign is scheduled to run for four weeks from May 30, 2023, through June 27, 2023. However, we may extend the run of the campaign depending on engagement and impact (as measured by increased readership on this website).
- Each of the specific items photographed and included in the printed panels installed on the New York City Subways was independently tested by Lead Safe Mama, LLC using XRF technology, and confirmed to have high levels of Lead.
- Most of the items tested were purchased new (or purchased used from a vintage store or eBay, in the case of the plates and cups) by Lead Safe Mama, LLC — although some were purchased/sent-in by regular readers of the Lead Safe Mama website (specifically to support this initiative).
- On this website, you will find a summary page dedicated to each item – with specific information about when and how we acquired it, as well as the Lead levels detected, confirmed (using XRF technology), and reported for that item. There are also more detailed articles about each item, for those interested in the bigger (and longer) conversation.
- Most of the Lead-painted baby bottles pictured were purchased new on Amazon (in the past several years) OR purchased directly from the manufacturer’s website.
Each of the images below is a link to a specific article about the products pictured.
The pieces related to this campaign include:
- Lead-painted short baby bottles
- Lead-painted tall baby bottles
- Dishes with high-Lead glaze
- Lead-painted cartoon character (collectible) glassware
- Press Inquiries page
- Test results for all items pictured in the campaign
- Article with in-depth discussion as to why we have decided to undertake this as a PSA Campaign with printed panels in the NYC Subway