Why are so many people concerned about lead in toys? How can this threat impact my child/ my family? Is it real? What do I need to know? Where can I look for answers?
In my opinion the concern about lead in toys is a little overblown. As a percentage, there are relatively few (modern) toys with lead in them. However there should be NO toys with lead in them (why should any child’s product have any lead in it, when there are safer alternatives?!)
In Europe there have been standards in place for decades – standards that ban hazardous substances in children’s items. As parents, we should make safe choices for our children, but it would also be great if the U.S. would adopt Federal standards similar to those already drafted and in place in Europe; why reinvent the wheel?
The reason the issue of lead in toys is so important is because it engages a whole new sector of the population in the conversation about lead safety and lead poisoning. It is an opportunity for parents to be introduced to concerns about lead and then to inquire into the issue of lead in our homes – our house paint, the dust in our homes, our soil and also lead in other items that tend to have much higher concentrations of lead than toys (ceramics, jewelry, keys, and other brass items, etc.)
The best thing we can do is to educate ourselves about the toxicity of lead in general and then make informed choices about what we let into our homes. Please always bear in mind – the greatest source of lead exposure – the greatest hazard – is lead in house dust (from re-painting and remodeling) and soil; that is the lead that is invisible and most readily bio-available, waiting to harm your child (the next time they pick that binky up off the floor and put it in their mouth!)
By all means DO get your toys tested at public events, keep on top of the recall lists, but most important: have your home tested. A full hazard assessment will generate a report for you to keep and you will learn if there are hazards now or potential hazards (encapsulated lead paint that would be disturbed during remodeling, for instance) and you will also (with your written hazard assessment) usually get instructions/ tips and ideas on how to fix the hazards and how much these “fixes” will cost you.
– Tamara Rubin