Monday, January 11, 2010

Don't Chew On That

Ever since the lead warnings have been coming out about toys, I've been thankful that my children are past the age of chewing on toys. I can't for the life of me understand why we make products for kids with harmful chemicals - oh wait, that's right, it's all about money. Cheap, appealing toys = fat profits.

If your kids are at the baby/toddler stage, it is a real concern since ingesting the lead is where the real danger lies. It isn't just swallowing small pieces - sucking or chewing on it repeatedly can lead to lead poisoning. In addition to educating yourself on the issue, I would consider buying a lead testing kit (available at most hardware stores now). I did this when I was concerned with my son's lunchbox and it did test positive for lead. I just learned that baby bibs are also on the frequent offender list. Cotton bibs may not be as convenient, but may warrant another look.

What surprised me in the news today was an article about kid's jewelry and how the lead has been replaced by another dangerous metal called cadmium. This carcinogen was found at high levels in 12% of the jewelry purchased recently for testing. These are the charm bracelets and pendants that little kids love - and love to suck on. I know I have seen my own children with pendants from their necklaces in their mouths. The one that I keep thinking of is the little paint-scratched ghost my son used to wear. It's gone now, but I'm guessing it would test positive for something bad. While cadmium is currently legal, the Consumer Product Safety Commission just announced an investigation today that could change that in the near future.

An article called Keeping Your Kids Safe from Lead in Kid's Products on the Sierra Club website had some interesting tips including avoiding vending machine toys and fake glossy pearl necklaces, and being aware of the issues of lead in toy jewelry.

I know it is one more thing to worry about, but I see this as a 3-step process. At a minimum we should be keeping the toys, necklaces, etc. out of their mouths. The next step is educating ourselves enough to keep the dangerous products out of our homes. I just added the CPSC alerts to my Google Reader account so I'll get notified of child product recalls. And, finally, the most important step is to get the companies to stop making this stuff in the first place!

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