With so many recalls on children’s toys and other items containing lead, daycare providers must take inventory of products in their centers. Thousands of children and adults are accidentally poisoned by lead each year, and the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that many children had blood lead levels high enough to cause permanent damage.
Lead is a toxic metal known to cause damage to the brain and nervous system. Lead poison gets into the body and accumulates over time if the exposure is not found and eliminated. Children ages 6 and younger and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. Overexposure can impair their mental and physical development.
Today lead poisoning is preventable if you know the source and precautions to take:
- Take inventory and remove any toys or items that have been recalled. Discard any toys with chipped paint, broken parts or deteriorated plastic.
- Clean up, as paint chips, dirt and dust on the floor has been found to contain lead. Keep play areas clean and toys off the floor. It is recommended to wash toys often and also children’s hands after play. Keep food in lead-free containers such as glass and stainless steel. Run cold water through lead pipes for several minutes before using it.
- Buy smart and always non-toxic. Look for safe, age appropriate toys made for children. Adult supplies may contain lead and other toxins.
- Find substitutes for products that have been recalled or have a troubled track record. Examples of safe alternatives would be books, unpainted wooden toys, balls and washable stuffed animals. Research where the product has been made; you may want to buy American-made toys.
- Get tested. If a parent is concerned about lead poisoning, they can have their child/children screened for lead exposure through a simple blood test. Even children who appear healthy may have high levels of lead. Also, consider having a trained professional test for lead at your center.
For more information about Lead Poisoning call 800-424-5323 or visit the site of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.