Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lead Free?

While Christmas shopping at a department store, I was perusing the toy aisle when I saw a Disney Princess jewelry set that proudly announced on the package in bold, sparkling letters, "Lead Free!"

Wait a minute...


I know there have been warnings about lead in toys for years, but seeing that little package of pink plastic, Sleeping Beauty inspired necklaces with the happy announcement that the contents were indeed "Lead Free" made me look around the rest of the toy aisle nervously. I stared at the Barbies in their party dresses and sequins, at the Dora the Explorer play-sets and the Play-School dollhouses with brightly colored plastic furniture, and then at the plastic model ponies. So many lovely, entertaining, fun things our children can play with.

Which ones are full of lead?

And if they are full of lead, why are they being sold to anyone?

Why is it okay for a business to create, import and distribute toys that are toxic to play with? Do the people who sign off on toxic toys as "safe" know they're approving potentially harmful items to kids? And if so, do they then allow their own children to play with them?

Okay, maybe I'm making a big leap here by assuming that just because a toy doesn't have a "lead free" sticker it must be full of lead. This is probably more a marketing gimmick than a statement of fact. But you gotta admit, it does raise a lot questions about the toys are kids are playing with.

Often I hear a politician or business leaders say on the news that stricter controls on lead and other toxins would be bad for business and could cause larger economic harm. They say if manufacturers had to test for hazards, or if those hazardous materials were banned from toys and other items, thousands of jobs would be lost because of the drop in profits for the business.

But I want to know, why should we have to trade the health of our children for jobs?

When I run the world, there will be no toxins, especially lead, in any toy or item of clothing or food or anything our kids might come in contact with. Period. No exceptions. And anyone who bitches about how taking toxins out of consumer goods is "bad for business" will be fined one million dollars. That money will go directly to children's health care.

It will be a great day when every single toy can have a label proclaiming "Lead Free." It will be an even better day when lead in toys will be such a thing of the past a "Lead Free" sticker will be considered quant and old-fashioned.

If you'd like more information about lead and products that may contain the toxin, check out the Environmental Protection Agency website at http://www.epa.gov/lead/

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