Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Buyer beware: Dangerous levels of lead found in used consumer products

From a December 1, 2010 Eureka news alert



CORVALLIS, Ore. – The problem of toxic lead in used consumer products is extremely widespread and present at levels that are far beyond safe limits, researchers conclude in a new study.

Research reported recently by the Associated Press found that lead and cadmium were present in cartoon character drinking glasses. Now a new study has found that many other items available for purchase throughout the United States – such as toys, home décor items, salvage, kitchen utensils and jewelry – contain surface lead concentrations more than 700 times higher than the federal limit.

The authors of the study were Laurel Sharmer of the State University of New York, Anna Harding of Oregon State University and Steven Shackley of the University of California, Berkeley. Sharmer, the lead author, is now retired and lives in Monmouth, Ore. The results are published in the December issue of The Journal of Environmental Health.

Researchers purchased a collection of used items from second-hand stores, junk shops and antiques stores in Virginia, New York and Oregon. The items included salvaged construction pieces, antique toys, common dishware, jewelry and other collectibles. Many of the items would have significant appeal to children. Before purchase the items were tested in the store using a qualitative swab test. Those that tested positive were purchased….
…The sale of used items in the United States is not regulated by any federal agency and as a result, it is possible that Americans are bringing the lead poisoning hazards of past generations back into their homes,” Sharmer said. “It is very important for consumers to understand that you can’t tell if a product contains lead by looking at it.”…

Used dishware and kitchen utensils should not be used for preparing, serving or storing food. Construction debris and salvage should be considered to have lead until proven safe.

Examples of used items in the study that contained high levels of lead include a salt shaker lid, small red toy teapot, Garfield cup, a red casserole dish, potato ricer, ice cream scoop, Japanese wine cup, Pewter bowl, and a turtle necklace.

December 2, 2010 - Posted by | Consumer Health | ,

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