Christmas Lights Tested for Lead Contained up to 10,000 ppm

Christmas Lights with LeadThe Ecology Center (HealthyStuff.org) tested 68 Christmas light sets and found that a shocking 54% of the products contained more than 300 parts per million of lead in PVC encased cords and light-bulb sockets – a level higher than the CPSC's standard for lead in children’s products.

Products with the highest lead levels included light strands from GE and Home Depot (over 300 ppm) and two sets sold at Home Depot under the Home Accents Holiday and Martha Stewart Living labels (over 450 ppm).

“You cannot sell products with these levels of lead in Europe, but companies continue to dump these types of hazardous products on US consumers,” said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center’s Research Director.  “It's time we had commonsense laws to protect us from toxic chemicals the way virtually ever other industrialized country does. We need a major and comprehensive overhaul of our chemicals policies immediately to start phasing out these dangerous substances.”

As we discussed in a recent article, locating PVC-free and lead-safe light strings proved impossible, so your best bet is to focused on tracking down RoHS compliant products.    We found Environmental Lights to be an invaluable source of well-researched options and SAFbaby also confirmed that Ikea offers safer light strands as well.

Lead levels in Christmas lights aren't regulated by the CPSC because they aren't considered a children's product. Most families do include their children in decorating for Christmas though, so it's very important to wash hands thoroughly afterward. Also remind children not touch their eyes, nose and mouth during contact, and as I mentioned before, it would be worthwhile for pregnant moms to do the same.

Photo Credit: Flickr, Dan Stefani

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4 Responses to Christmas Lights Tested for Lead Contained up to 10,000 ppm

  1. Heather December 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    Our parents think that we’re crazy for not putting Christmas lights up in our house but the thought of our two-year-old touching them and ingesting lead is much more important to me than the “must-have” tradition of lighting the tree. Our tree is filled with beautiful ornaments and I don’t have to freak out and wash hands after being near it. Plus we can still enjoy the beauty of Christmas lights outside. Seems like an easy decision to me.

    • Alicia December 11, 2010 at 2:03 am #

      Hi Heather – we toxic chemical avoiders have to put up with all kinds of funny looks from suspicious family members, don’t we?! We also hang our Christmas lights outside which works well enough for us.

  2. Spmeyers December 20, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    Once again a product that would be deemed illegal in Europe is sold over here. I am so sick of this; when is the US going to take a lead in this matters? Ever? I am not holding my breath.

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  1. Crunchy Domestic Goddess » Nothing says Merry Christmas quite like Lead Poisoning - December 11, 2010

    […] Alicia from The Soft Landing had some tips for safer holiday lights. “As we discussed in a recent article, locating […]

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