Those of us who live in places with lots of older buildings are probably a bit resigned to the idea that we've been exposed to lead from the chipping paint in that shabby-chic Edwardian rental we shared with a multitude of roommates. But the recent recalls of more than a million lead-contaminated toys-- including this karaoke Elmo--were still shocking. In yet another unintended consequence of globalization, the toxic ingredient that the U.S. banned from paint in 1978 has come back into our homes in the form of die-cast cars, action figures, and children's jewelry, most of it made in China.
The Sierra Club has been trying for a while to get the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the EPA (which was not so long ago toying with the idea of dropping some of its health standards for lead air pollution) to crack down on lead in children's products. The CPSC is now making noise about a ban, but until that happens, here's what you can do:
- Check the Mattel recall list for any toys your child might already own
- Buy a home-testing kit from LeadCheck, Lead Inspector, Homax, or First Alert
- Schedule an appointment with your doctor to have your child tested for lead exposure
For more tips and information about the health effects of lead, visit sierraclub.org/healthycommunities/lead.