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The dangers of lead in children's toys

When we buy toys for our children, we have the right to expect that the toys have been tested for safety and that they are free from dangerous substances that can cause illness or injury. Despite the progress that has been made in making toys safer and the best efforts of safety regulators, defective and dangerous toys still make their ways into New York homes.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), toys that contain lead can pose a serious health risk to children. Although there are strict laws against the manufacture of toys with lead in the US, defective toys imported from other countries and those that were made long ago can expose children to lead poisoning.

In children's toys, lead is usually found in paint, plastic or both. Lead-based paint was banned from the production of children's toys in the U.S. in 1978, though it is still found on imported toys. Lead is currently legal to use in plastic as a softening agent to increase material flexibility. When plastic with lead is exposed to air, sunlight or some detergents, the lead can be released with dangerous consequences.

Unfortunately, lead has no smell and is invisible to the naked eye when included in children's toys. Children can be exposed to toxic amounts of lead when they place toys in their mouths or when they get lead on their hands.

While home kits are available to test a product for lead content, they are generally unreliable. Only certified laboratories can consistently test for lead content with accuracy.

If you suspect that your child has been exposed to lead poisoning, the CDC recommends bringing the child to a doctor for a blood lead test immediately. In many cases, children may not immediately display any symptoms despite having dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.

Source: CDC.gov: "Sources of Lead, Toys"

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