by Alicia Voorhies, RN
I know. I'm sitting smack dab on my soap box right in the middle of the Christmas season. It's just too hard to ignore the fact that lead continues to sneak into our celebrations each year.
Why You Should Send Lead Packing
Although lead levels have decreased in children over the past several years, it is still widely used in an array of everyday products. Lead is often used in PVC plastic products, paint pigment, jewelry, and ceramics.
Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause learning disorders, brain and nerve damage, hearing problems, stunted growth, and digestive problems. Scientists are increasingly convinced that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for young children. The EPA has also listed lead as a probable human carcinogen.
How to Break Up Lead's Toxic Party
- Go with a real Christmas tree: most fake trees are made from PVC and are treated with toxic flame retardants. If you decide that a resuable tree is necessary, there are polyethylene (PE) options available. Keep in mind that even PE pre-lit trees still have PVC in the light string casing.
- Choose RoHS compliant, lead-safe Christmas lights: last year Healthy Toys released a report showing that 4 out of 5 sets of string lights tested contained lead. By far the best source of RoHS lights we've found here in the U.S. is Environmental Lights.
- Skip cheap jewelry and PVC plastic toys for kids' gifts: the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has been testing jewelry and toys for years and they've consistently found unsettling amounts of lead.
- Be careful not to use lead crystal glassware and make sure your ceramic and China dishware has been tested for heavy metals by the manufacturer.
- Use non-toxic, lead-free paints (especially finger paints) when decorating Christmas cards and ornaments.
You pregnant mamas out there need to be careful with lead exposure risk too. A recent study linked low lead levels linked to higher blood pressure during labor, so be sure you let daddy do the decorating or wear gloves in situations where you have to be involved.