Tips For This Year's Lead-Safe Toys
Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Wed., December 16, 2009
By Gail Doyle, RN, PHN
EVERY HOLIDAY SEASON parents unintentionally purchase toys that put their children at risk for health problems. This year, take some extra steps to avoid giving the gift of lead poisoning.
Why is lead in toys a health problem?
Lead usually gets into a child's body through the mouth because young children touch and taste everything within reach. A child's body is small, so it takes only a little lead to do a lot of harm. Lead can permanently damage a child's brain and nervous system, leading to learning and behavior problems.
At first, lead-poisoned children usually don't look sick or act different. A blood test is the only way to know if your child has been exposed to lead. Talk to your child's doctor about testing.
Where can lead be found in children's products?
How can I check toys for lead?
Check toys and children's products at home and at your child's day care or baby sitter's home. Be especially cautious about toys that your child mouths, bites or chews. Products with lead may still be found at stores, secondhand shops, garage sales or flea markets. Some ways to check include:
If you choose to use a home lead test kit (available at hardware stores), be aware that they only test what is on the surface and may not indicate lead even if it is present. Toys that test positive for lead most likely contain lead, but negative results for toys may be unreliable.
What other steps can I take to keep my child safer?
For more information, contact your local lead poisoning prevention program. In Contra Costa County, visit www.cchealth.org/topics/lead_poison/ or call 925-313-6763.
Doyle is the health educator for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Project of the county health department. Healthy Outlook is written by the professional staff of Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Send questions to series coordinator Dr. David Pepper at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more health information, go to www.cchealth.org.