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Lead Hazards in Some Holiday Toys

Young boy playing with toysA message to parents: Be aware of potential lead hazards associated with some holiday toys and toy jewelry. Review these important facts to keep your loved ones safe this holiday season.

The holiday season is here, and that means many children will be given toys as gifts. While new toys are a holiday tradition, you  should be aware of potential lead hazards associated with some toys, including toy jewelry. Review these important facts to keep your children safe this holiday season.

Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell. Children may be exposed to it from consumer products by simply handling the product normally. Because children often put toys, other objects, and their fingers in their mouths, they can be exposed when they do this as well.

Girl opening presents

Protect children from exposure to lead in metal and plastic toys, especially imported toys, antique toys, and toy jewelry.

Girl playing with dreidel

If you suspect your child has put a toy containing lead into his or her mouth, remove the toy and see your healthcare provider.

Pile of toys

To be sure your child’s toys are safe, check the Consumer Products Safety Commission list of recalled toys.

Lead in Toys

Toys made in other countries and then imported into the United States, or antique toys or collectibles passed down through generations, often contain lead that puts children at risk for lead exposure. To reduce these risks, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issues recalls of toys that could potentially expose children to lead. Learn more at the CDC Lead Website.

Lead may be used in two aspects of toy manufacturing:

  • Paint: Lead may be in the paint on toys. In 1978, the United States banned the use of lead in house paint, in products marketed to children, and in dishes and cookware. However, lead paint is still widely used in other countries and therefore can be found on imported toys. Lead may also be found on toys made in the United States before the ban.
  • Plastic: While regulated, the use of lead in plastics has not been banned in the United States. It softens and stabilizes the plastic; however, when the plastic is exposed to sunlight, air, and detergents, the plastic breaks down and may form a lead dust.

How can I test a toy for lead?

Only a certified laboratory can accurately test a toy for lead. Although do-it-yourself kits are available, they do not indicate how much lead is present, and their reliability at detecting low levels of lead has not been determined.

What should I do if I am concerned about my child's exposure to lead?

If you suspect that your child has been exposed to a toy containing lead, remove the toy immediately. The only way to tell if your child has been exposed to lead is to have the child's blood tested. Your health care provider can advise whether such a test is needed and also can recommend treatment if your child has been exposed to lead.

Lead in Toy Jewelry

What are the effects of wearing toy jewelry?

Just wearing toy jewelry that contains lead will not cause children to have a high level of lead in their blood. However, small children often put things in their mouths. You should make sure that all children in your household do not have access to jewelry or other items that may contain lead. If jewelry containing lead is swallowed or put in a child's mouth, the child can be poisoned.

What should I do if I believe my child has put lead jewelry in his or her mouth?

See your healthcare provider. He or she can perform a blood test to see whether your child has been exposed to lead and recommend treatment if necessary. There is no safe level of lead in blood, and most children with elevated blood lead levels do not have any symptoms. As blood lead levels increase, a larger effect on children's learning and behavior will occur. A blood lead test is the only way to know if your child has an elevated lead level.

Recall Information

CPSC asks you to search for possible recalls of toys your children have and immediately take the toys away if they have been recalled. You should search your children's toys for metal jewelry and throw it away. Photos and descriptions of recalled toys and toy jewelry are available on the CPSC website. CPSC can be contacted also by telephone at 1-800-638-2772.

  • Page last reviewed: December 1, 2014
  • Page last updated: December 3, 2014
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