How Concerned Should I be About Lead in Toys?

wiseGEEK Writer

2007 may be known for many things, but among them it may be dubbed the year of the recall. For the first time, toy testers became aware that many toys from China, and a few from India exhibited high amounts of lead, making them extremely unsafe for children. Even a few things like children’s lunchboxes were found to contain unsafe levels of lead, prompting many parents to be tremendously concerned about lead in toys and supplies for children, in general.

Before buying toys, parents should research manufacturing procedures.
Before buying toys, parents should research manufacturing procedures.

It is true that reports of lead in toys and subsequent recalls tripled in 2007, and many experts feel there is still cause to be concerned, especially with toys made in certain countries where independent tests are not always conducted. Some things did become clear — the US hadn’t been subjecting many imported toys to independent tests, trusting other countries to maintain industry standards for safety in toy manufacturing.

Some countries do not have a national policy regarding toy testing.
Some countries do not have a national policy regarding toy testing.

Thus it’s reasonable for parents to feel concerned about levels of lead in toys. There are a few ways that you can offset such concerns, and purchase toys that would be considered “safer” for children. First, until assurance can be given that toys from certain countries like China have a national policy for testing, it makes sense to avoid them, especially for younger children under the age of ten who are most likely to be vulnerable to lead poisoning.

Avoiding such toys is assuredly difficult. About 70-80% of toys sold in the US are manufactured in China, and they are often the most desired items of holiday seasons, or just in general. Parents may need to change the way they approach purchasing toys until the issue is completely resolved by better testing by the US government, and greater assurance that toys manufactured elsewhere are safe.

This means, for young children, it makes sense to provide toys that are manufactured in the US, or to purchase Canadian made or European made toys. To avoid lead in toys, you may have to do more research on the Internet before you shop. If you’re truly concerned about lead in toys, avoid the latest action heroes, toys from fast food restaurants, and most other toys. Instead, choose to shop American, Canadian or European, looking for those toys that have more reliable manufacturing processes and stricter, more greatly enforced standards.

It’s important to note that age appropriateness of a toy should also be considered. Though there may be levels of lead in toys; these tend to be of most risk to children who mouth them, or break them so that they either ingest lead or breathe in lead dust. With very young children, stick to toys that are safe for putting in the mouth and sturdy to prevent such hazards.

You can also keep abreast of reports on lead in toys by evaluating current toy recalls. These recalls are regularly available on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website. This is the easiest way to find out whether a toy has been recalled, so that you can remove toys you already own that are deemed unsafe.

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