What We Can Do About Lead Poisoning
Part of protecting children is also considering what could harm them in their environments. Lead is present in everyday items, such as older or antique toys.
Most of us have heard about lead poisoning. But, how do you get it and what can be done about it? In 1978, lead in household paints was made illegal. Yet, toys created before that time (or items that don't meet legal standards) can still pose a danger, particularly to children. In fact, in 2018, a NY state lawsuit accused Target and Walmart of "selling toys manufactured in China with lead levels measuring 10 times higher than federal limits."
So, what's the problem? The effects of lead poisoning are not necessarily something that you would notice right away, but are instead, long-ranging. Some effects include kidney trouble, seizures lowered IQ, growth delay, and even death in extreme cases.
As caregivers, we can help children avoid lead exposure by ensuring that the toys they play with are lead-free. If you are concerned about toys possibly containing lead, you can use the search function at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or call the hotline at 1-800-638-2772. You can also go to the toy manufacturer or distributor's website to see if there has been a recall and possibly even get a refund.
If you have antique toys, or toys passed down to children from years past, the safest course of action would be to wait until a child is old enough not to put the toy in their mouth before allowing them to play with it. Some consider putting these types of toys on a shelf, rather than playing with via touch.
If you think a child in your care has been exposed to lead or is exhibiting signs of lead poisoning, the good news is that a simple doctor-ordered lab can detect lead poisoning. It is important to get tested as soon as possible and then pursue treatment as needed.
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