No doubt that last year was the year of the “toy recall.” Everywhere you looked there was another toy being recalled for one reason or another, but one of the big offenders was lead. It was really overwhelming for just about every parent you talked to. When was the madness going to end?
The good news is, that after last year, there are fewer lead recalls this year, the bad news is, that there are still lead recalls, and experts are telling parents to still use caution when buying toys for their kids:
“I don’t think at this point that anyone who makes a toy is looking to save a little bit extra on the margin by using cheap materials,” says Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, Calif. “But I am not confident that they’re all going to be able to do the job and get the lead out.”
Recalls of toys or children’s products because of lead paint or lead content are down sharply, from a record 112 in 2007 to 64 this year. There were 20 lead recalls in 2006 and only 13 in 2005.
While it’s a little more comforting to know that companies are still taking precautions to avoid lead, there’s still no federal limit on the amount of lead allowed in toys. For babies and small children, this could pose to be really dangerous. And do you really want ANY lead near any of your children, regardless of age? While parents agree that there should be a law on the amount of lead (as in, NONE) allowed in toys, especially ones geared towards infants and toddlers, there are precautions you can take to help minimize lead exposure:
- For infants and young babies: Look for toys that are all natural or organic made with eco-friendly, natural dyes. There are plenty of toys out there that still bright enough and appealing to baby’s senses.
- Avoid dollar stores and other stores that sell generic branded cheaply made toys.
- Limit the amount of big name brand toys. While many companies will publish information and are cracking down on lead in their toys by taking extra measures, some companies seem to withhold that information, as if they seem to be hiding something. (That’s right, we’re looking at YOU Fisher-Price)
- We also realize that toddlers and younger children are at the age where they have to have a certain toy. A great website to turn to in this case would be Healthytoys.org which has a large database of toys that they’ve tested for lead and other harmful chemicals.
- Buy a lead testing kit. These are available at just about any hardware store.
- Keep up to date on the latest recalls by checking out the CPSC’s recall list
- Invest more money in few, better quality, environmentally friendly toys, rather than stocking up on more cheaply made toys. Kids tend to play better with less. And think about how much easier it’ll be to clean your house.
We know you’re not perfect. We still have mindless plastic toys floating around the house. Sometimes, you just need peace and quiet, but following these simple guidelines should help you minimize not only the amount of lead your child could be exposed to, but also your impact on the environment.