Lead in Children’s Products FAQ for Healthcare Providers

Parents have been calling my office to ask if their children should have lead tests because of the recent toy recalls. What should I tell them?

Parents should be encouraged to check old and new infant and children’s products by using one of the following resources:

Website

Look-up products at www.healthystuff.org.

Information about products recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has an automated telephone hotline with an option to speak with a representative at 1-800-638-2772 to find out if a product has been recalled.

A complete list of lead-related recalls can be found at http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/.

How common is lead poisoning in the U.S.? I thought it is no longer a big problem?

As of 2004, the prevalence of blood lead levels in children 1 to 5 years-old was 1.4%, but is consistently higher in children who are new immigrants, African-American, Latino, and of lower socioeconomic background.

Where is lead most commonly found?

The quantity of lead entering a child’s body may vary widely by their environment, culture and socioeconomic background. Older homes are common sources of lead exposure, especially those with peeling paint and soil that may contain lead debris. Latino children may also be exposed through imported pottery, candies and other products that have been manufactured using lead or are contaminated with lead. Some Mexican or Asian folk remedies contain high concentrations of lead as do some cosmetics, some of which are specifically used on small children as part of cultural practices.

Children should not be allowed to play with recalled toys. Parents should be instructed to put the toys in a place where children cannot find them, until the toys can be returned or disposed of as directed by local public health authorities.

What do I tell parents about other toys not currently on the recall list?

It is difficult to answer questions about toys that a child currently owns unless the toy has been recalled. Parents can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Web site: http://www.cpsc.gov for information on prior recalled toys and children’s jewelry.

What about home testing kits for lead?

Parents may ask about the use of home test kits to detect lead in toys, paint, dust, or soil. Studies show that these kits are not reliable enough to tell the difference between high and low levels of lead.

What is my responsibility as a provider? Who can I call for help with a possible or actual case?

Health care providers are required to screen with a blood lead test all children at or around age one year and again at or around age two years. If you have a specific question regarding the evaluation and management of a child that may have lead poisoning, you may contact your regional poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. They will be able to refer you for consultation with a medical toxicologist as appropriate.

How can I receive updates on future lead-related recalls?

Go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx and sign up to receive e-mail notification of any future recalls.

Information about the Lead in Children’s Products Project

Funding for this project is provided through a grant from the Public Health Trust www.publichealthtrust.org from a settlement of a claim that California consumers were exposed to lead through the manufacture, distribution and sale of toys made of materials that contain lead or lead compounds, without being provided “clear and reasonable” warnings (People of the State of California v. The Mattel Company, et al.). This grant is a partnership with the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based nonprofit environmental organization, which maintains the website www.healthystuff.org that offers consumers a guide to toxic chemicals in toys and other children’s products.

Funding is provided by the Public Health Trust, a program of the Public Health Institute, through settlement of a complaint brought by the State of California.

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