Children's Voice July/August 2007

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Watch Out! Surprising Sources of Lead Exposure

  • Toys and furniture made before 1978 and painted with lead-based paint.

  • Miniblinds (imported vinyl, nonglossy varieties). As they age, lead dust can be released. Look for a label that says "nonleaded" or "no lead added."

  • Lead in soil may come from paint chips that have flaked off older homes, or from leaded-gasoline exhaust from cars. When children play in the soil, lead clings to their hands.

  • Lead-glazed ceramic dishes and cups, especially hand-made items and Mexican terra cotta pottery. These and lead crystal and pewter dishes should not be used to store food or beverages--particularly acidic drinks like orange juice--for long periods.

  • Metal toy jewelry and trinkets. In July 2004, 150 million pieces of toy jewelry from India were recalled because of lead. Several other recalls of inexpensive metal charms and jewelry have taken place since then.

  • Lead used in hobbies--especially lead soldiers, ceramic glazes, and the lead dividers in stained glass.

  • Many garden hoses contain lead and should not be used for drinking unless labeled "safe for drinking."

  • Folk remedies containing lead, such as greta and azarcon, used to treat upset stomach in Latino and Asian communities.

  • Chapulines (grasshoppers) from Mexico, eaten as snack food. Usually seasoned, sold in small, unlabeled bags at Latino food stores or flea markets, some have been found to be highly contaminated with lead.

  • Cosmetic products called Sindoor (also called kohl), produced in India, contain high levels of lead.

  • Litargirio, a skin product from the Dominican Republic. Nearly 80% lead, this powder may be used as an antiperspirant or foot powder or to treat fungal skin infections and burns.

  • Certain imported candies, especially from Mexico. Dulmex-brand Bolirindo lollipops, tamarind candy, and candies flavored with chili powder have been found to contain unacceptable amounts of lead.

  • Some imported candles. When leaded wicks burn, they release poisonous fumes that can be inhaled and may also leave a toxic dust.

  • Sidewalk chalk. Multicolored sidewalk chalk manufactured in China was found in 2003 to contain high levels of lead.



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