About Lead in Consumer Products

Key points

  • Lead may be present in consumer products made in other countries or in items that are no longer produced in the U.S.
  • You can test products for lead by submitting a sample to a certified laboratory.
  • Contact your child’s healthcare provider if you think they have been exposed to a product containing lead.
Box of old toys.


Lead can be found in some consumer products made in other countries and imported into the United States. Lead can also be found in collectible items no longer produced in the U.S. but passed down through the generations. Learn more about lead in consumer products.


Lead in toys

Some toys, especially those that are imported or are antique toys, and toy jewelry may contain lead.

Imported toys

Toys made in some countries are more likely to contain lead than toys made in the United States, Canada, or the European Union. Lead paint was banned for use in house paint, on products marketed to children, and on dishes or cookware in the United States in 1978. However, it is still widely used in many other countries.

Antique toys

Toys made before the ban on lead paint in 1978 may contain lead-based paint. Therefore, painted antiques or collectible toys that are passed down through generations may contain lead. Additionally, older toys made of tin, brass, or pewter alloys may contain lead.


Lead is often used in jewelry, including children's jewelry, to make the product heavier, brighten colors, and stabilize or soften plastic. Jewelry labeled as made in the United States is less likely to contain lead compared with jewelry made abroad. There is an increased risk for buying lead based if it was purchased through informal and unregulated sources.

Children should not be allowed to wear jewelry that may contain lead because of exposure from chewing, sucking on, or swallowing jewelry.

Plastic toys and other products

The use of lead in plastics has not been banned. Lead is used to soften plastic and to make it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape. It may also be used in plastic toys to stabilize molecules from heat. The chemical bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms a dust when the plastic is exposed to sunlight, air, or detergents. A young child may touch the plastic toy and then ingest the dust when putting their fingers in their mouth.

Other elements

Lead is used in making alloys with other elements such as antimony, tin, arsenic, and calcium that may be used in toys.

Lead in antique and vintage items (other than toys)

Lead may be found in antique and vintage products purchased at thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, antique shops, or online. It may also be found in items that are passed down through generations. These items were often made before current federal regulations on lead went into effect in 1978.

The following antique and vintage items may contain lead:

  • Dishware
  • Painted tin panels
  • Lead crystal pieces
  • Ceramic items
  • Silverware
  • Jewelry
  • Furniture


The good news is that childhood lead poisoning is preventable. Do not let children play with recalled toys, toys manufactured before 1978, and vintage and antique products because older toys and other products may contain lead-based paint.

Recall information‎

Get information on recalls from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) website or by calling 1-800-638-2772.

Testing products for lead

You can test products for lead by submitting a sample to a certified laboratory. Only a certified laboratory can accurately test products for lead content. Although do-it-yourself kits are available, they do not show how much lead is present. Additionally, their reliability in detecting low lead levels has not been determined.

Testing children for lead exposure

If you think your child has been exposed to a product containing lead, contact your healthcare provider. Most children who are exposed to lead have no symptoms. A blood lead test is the best way to tell if a child has been exposed.

Healthcare providers can help you decide whether a blood lead test is needed. A healthcare provider can also recommend appropriate follow-up actions if a child has been exposed. As the amount of lead in the blood increases, adverse effects from lead may also increase.