Lead in Consumer Products

Lead can be found in some consumer products made in other countries and then imported into the United States or in collectible items no longer produced in the U.S., but passed down through the generations.

How your child may be exposed

Lead may be found in the paint on toys which was banned in the U.S. but is still widely used in other countries. Lead may also be found on older toys made in the U.S. before the ban.

The use of lead in plastics has not been banned. Lead softens the plastic and makes 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. Lead dust can be formed when plastic is exposed to sunlight, air, and detergents that break down the chemical bond between the lead and plastics.

Lead is also used in making alloys with other metals such as antimony, tin, arsenic, and calcium which are the most common alloying elements.

Young children tend to put their hands, toys, or other objects, which may be made of or contaminated with lead, into their mouths. If you have a small child in your household, make sure the child does not have access to toys, jewelry or other items that may contain lead.

What to do if you think your child has been exposed

If you think that your child has been exposed to a product containing lead, contact your child’s health care provider. Most children who are exposed to lead have no symptoms. The only way to tell if your child has been exposed is with a blood lead test. Your health care provider can help you decide whether a blood lead test is needed and can also recommend appropriate follow-up actions if your child has been exposed. As levels of lead in the blood increase, adverse effects from lead may also increase.

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 and their reliability at detecting low levels of lead has not been determined.

More information

To reduce risks of lead exposure in consumer products, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issues recalls of current productsexternal icon that could potentially expose children to lead.