Lead Hazards in Some Holiday Toys and Toy Jewelry

Baby chewing on toy

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

Many children get toys and toy jewelry as gifts during the holiday season. Some toys, especially imported toys, antique toys and toy jewelry, may contain lead hazards. Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell. Lead is used to augment paints and pigments on some toys. And toys may also be made of lead.

Children may be exposed to lead by simply handling toys normally. It is normal for toddlers and infants to put toys, fingers and other objects in their mouths. Children may be exposed to lead this way.

Lead in Toys

Toys imported into the United States, toy jewelry and antique toys and collectibles may contain lead. To reduce children’s risk for exposure, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) tests and issues recalls of toys that could potentially expose children to lead. Learn more at the CDC Lead website.

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

How can I test a toy for lead?

Do-it-yourself test kits are available that identify if toys contain lead, but they do not show how much lead is present and it isn’t known how reliable they are at detecting low levels of lead.

Only a certified laboratory can accurately determine how much lead is in a toy.

What should I do if I am concerned about my child’s exposure to lead in a toy?

If you think your child has been exposed to a toy containing lead, remove the toy immediately.

A blood lead test is the only way to tell if your child has been exposed to lead. Contact your child’s health care provider to see if a blood lead test is needed. Your child’s health care provider 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 your child to have a high level of lead in their blood. However, chewing or sucking on lead-contaminated jewelry will expose your child to lead.

Make sure that children in your home do not have access to jewelry or other items that may contain lead. Your child can be exposed to lead if he or she swallows or puts toy jewelry containing lead in his or her mouth.

Girl playing with toy train

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

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

If you think your child put jewelry containing lead in his or her mouth, remove the jewelry and see your child’s health care provider. Your child’s health care provider can do a blood test to see if 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 high 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 been exposed to lead.

Page last reviewed: November 27, 2018