Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tips on Lead in Toys

When picking out that perfect toy this holiday season, parents must be aware of the dangers of lead contamination. The EPA has determined that lead is a probable human carcinogen, and exposure to lead is more dangerous for young and unborn children. Lead can damage the nervous system, kidneys, and reproductive system. Practitioner Dr. Diane Meyer warns against lead-contaminated toys & offers important tips to keep your kids safe and healthy this holiday season.

  • Avoid no-name products and be careful when you buy items at dollar stores, street fairs, vending machines, thrift stores or yard sales.

  • Buy age-appropriate toys. For example, children age 2 are most at risk for putting things in their mouths. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a list of age-appropriate toys on its web site.

  • Avoid vintage toys and antique furniture that may have been painted with older lead-based paint. If the item is a keepsake or collectible, put it away until your child is older.

  • Be mindful when purchasing anything that your young one may be putting in their mouth, on their skin, in the tub. Things that are put onto or into the body (inhalation, lotions, makeup, sucking on things etc.) will have a greater impacted regarding the effects of the toxic substance.

  • Make sure arts and crafts items you buy for your children are non-toxic. Lead has been banned from children's paints but adult artist's paints and ceramic glazes can contain lead and other toxic heavy metals. Look for water-based paints and glues.

  • Remember heat will make most chemicals come out faster and also heat from the bath water makes skin much more absorbable. So toxins can enter your child more easily in the tub/shower.

  • If you purchase toys that are known to be toxic return them as soon as possible.

  • Conduct frequent sort and toss sessions and discard toys with chipped paint, deteriorated plastic or other broken or damaged parts. When in doubt, throw the toy away.

  • To avoid lead exposure from sources in the home, keep floors and other play areas clean and free of dust and debris. Wash your children's hands and playthings often.

If you are concerned, get your child tested for lead -- especially if you live in a home with paint in poor condition that was built before 1978. Even children who appear healthy may have high levels of lead. A simple blood test can detect lead levels in children and some states require them. Children should have their blood checked at age one and again at two.

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