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Testing Toys for Lead

testingtoysforlead.jpgThe many (many) toy recalls over the course of 2007 have left a lot of parents worried about the toys they already have. Most, if not all, of the toys were made in China and had to be recalled due to high levels of lead in the paint. It is entirely possible that some of the toys in the homes of infants are high in lead but haven’t yet been recalled. It’s enough to cause nightmares for parents.

But, if you’re worried about the lead content in your baby’s toys, you don’t have to wait for a recall. You don’t have to send them off to a lab or keep every toy that isn’t stuffed away from your baby. You can actually test the lead levels on your own at home.

A few years ago there was a massive recall of toy jewelry that was bought from those little toy dispensers that most grocery stores keep near the doors. At the time, it was the biggest recall of toys in history. And, it scared me. We had lots of toy jewelry around, some of it from those machines and some of it from other sources. The problem was, which ones were from the machines? And, did other toy jewelry have lead in the paint? Other than taking away every piece of toy jewelry in the house, I decided to try to figure it out and get rid of the offending pieces.

Looking online, I found a small lead-testing kit. It had about 50 testing strips in it, each one very small but very accurate. I bought the kit at an online drugstore for less than $20 and awaited its arrival. Once it came, it was one of the best things I ever bought for my kids. It showed me with a very simple, quick test which toys had lead paint and which didn’t. Only one piece of the toy jewelry tested positive, and it was discarded. A few weeks later, a local company gave one of the kids a toy ring as a prize. It looked a little suspicious, so I took it home and tested. It tested off the charts for lead, and it hadn’t even been bought from a machine. It was from a Chinese importer, I was told later, and they had hundreds just like it.

The current crop of toys can be tested just as easily. The test strips show within seconds whether there’s lead on the surface of the item. This can be especially useful when I can’t tell for sure if a toy we have is the exact one in the recall. Recall pictures are often small and often there were several toys made that look similar. I’m certainly glad I had my lead testing kit when the most recent batch of recalls happened. I feel a lot safer knowing that I can test any suspicious toys instead of waiting around for a recall.

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