Health and Family Services Cabinet
Not All Fun and Games
Public Health Warns Some Toys Can Be a Health Threat
Recent toy recalls have made headlines – and caused parents to worry about their children’s potential exposure to lead and its effect on their health.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) wants consumers to know more about the dangers of lead exposure and about the possibility that some products, such as children’s toys, could contain substantial amounts of lead.
DPH encourages Kentuckians to be aware of recalls related to lead and to familiarize themselves with and regularly monitor product safety resources such as agencies and Web sites containing the most up-to-date information in lead-related news.
“Children who ingest lead are at risk for many harmful effects including reduced IQ, behavioral problems and learning disabilities,” said Krista Bailey, coordinator for DPH’s childhood lead poisoning prevention program. “Severe lead poisoning can cause coma, convulsions and death.”
Lead paint was banned for residential use in 1978, barring the dangerous element from products such as house paint, dishes and toys. Unfortunately, this law does not prohibit the use of lead in products manufactured in other countries.
Toy manufacturers and distributors have not been able to identify a method to catch the importation of toys tainted with lead-based paint in all cases. So it’s extremely important that consumers discard any products that could contain lead and know the signs of lead exposure.
“Children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning because their developing bodies absorb lead more easily than adults,” said Bailey. “Children are also more likely to put their hands in their mouths after touching areas where lead can potentially be, such as floors, windowsills or areas near home renovation.”
Lead also disrupts the development process in children, which may lead to nervous system damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the lead poisoning prevention program recommend that children be screened at the ages of 12 and 24 months for potential lead exposure.
“Although the vast majority of toy manufacturers and retailers do a wonderful job of providing and marketing very safe products, we are conducting effectiveness checks around the state to ensure these recalled toys are out of the marketplace and not available for consumer purchase,” said Guy Delius, assistant director of the public health protection and safety division.
For more information on recent toy recalls and how to protect children from lead hazards, go to http://www.nchh.org/index.htm and click on the link for two fact sheets the National Center for Healthy Housing has released.
Information is also available from the lead poisoning prevention program Web site at http://www.putthelidonlead.org.