Lead Found in Household Items

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

"Lead was used commonly in houses 20 to 30 years ago," said Dr. Kirby Donnelly with the Texas A&M Health Science Center School for Rural Public Health. "But when the toxicity of lead was recognized, it was largely eliminated, so it's surprising that it's now used in toys."

One of the most recent recalls is about 38,000 "Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Boats" from Mattel's Fisher Price unit.

"Children put toys in their mouth especially small children, and the concern would be that a small child would put the toy in their mouth and be exposed to lead in paint from that," Donnelly said.

Health experts say lead is something that accumulates in the body overtime.

In children, it can lead to delayed growth and development, loss of intelligence, stomach ache, reduced weight, reduced height, hearing impairment, and/or hyperactivity. In adults, it's known to increase blood pressure.

"If you don't eat a lot of meat or protein, or you don't drink a lot of milk, you tend to absorb lead more quickly, and children have systems that tend to absorb lead more quickly as well," Donnelly said.

For those using at home lead testing kits, they may not be the most reliable. The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced earlier this week that many of the kits produced false negatives, when lead really was present.

However, lead isn't only being found in toys.

"It seems to be in lipsticks with a bright red color and so I'm assuming that the lead is used as a pigment or something to make the red color brighter," Donnelly said.

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosemtics, some popular brands such as Cover Girl, L'Oreal and Christian Dior were among those testing higher for lead concentration.

"For an older woman who's been putting lipstick on, it's probably not much of a risk, unless she's actually eating the lipstick," Donnelly said. "But it's one of those things she probably would be wise not to kiss any small children."

Health experts say the lead found in lipsticks is relatively low and currently there is not an FDA set limit for the amount of lead allowed in lipstick.

If you think you may have been exposed to lead, the best thing to do is consult your doctor.


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