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Lead Hazards in Toys

Posted: December 9, 2014

This message to parents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concerns potential lead hazards associated with some holiday toys and toy jewelry. Take a moment to review the information below and keep your kids safe this holiday season.


Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell. Children may be exposed to it by simply handling a toy normally…and because children often put things in their mouths—including their fingers—they can be exposed to lead in this manner as well.

Toys made in other countries and then imported into the United States, or antique toys/collectibles passed down through generations, often contain lead that puts children at risk for lead exposure.

Lead may be introduced during the toy manufacturing process via paint or plastic.

Paint: In 1978, the U.S. banned the use of lead in house paint, in products marketed to children, and in dishes and cookware. Lead paint, however, is still widely used in other countries and therefore can be found on imported toys. Lead may also be found on toys made in the U.S. before the ban.

Plastic: The use of lead in plastics, while regulated, is not banned in the U.S. Lead softens and stabilizes the plastic, however, when the plastic is exposed to sunlight, air and detergents, the plastic breaks down and may form a lead dust.

Just wearing toy jewelry doesn’t lead to children having a high level of lead in their blood, however, small children often put things in their mouths. If lead-based jewelry is accidentally swallowed or placed in a child’s mouth, the child may be poisoned.

If you believe your child has been exposed to a toy or jewelry containing lead, remove it immediately. The only way to tell if your child has been exposed is to have the child’s blood tested. Your health care provider can advise whether such a test is needed. There is no safe level of lead in blood, and most children with elevated blood lead levels do not have any symptoms. As blood lead levels increase, a larger effect on children’s learning and behavior will occur. A blood lead test is the only way to know if your child has an elevated lead level.

The CPSC maintains a searchable database of consumer product incident reports that the public can utilize to search for safety information about products that are in their home already or that they may be thinking about purchasing. Also, the latest recalls and product safety news items from the CPSC are available as a news feed right here on the township website.