City offers free testing of children’s toys for lead

Lead is a hazard which if not diagnosed early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system. To combat this hazard, the City of Minneapolis is offering four free opportunities to have toys and other objects tested for lead.

Despite many safeguards introduced in the past decade, children’s toys and other objects continue to show up with unhealthy levels of lead in both the vinyl coverings and paints used to manufacture them, especially in toys imported from other countries. Children exposed to these levels of lead can develop behavior and learning problems such as hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, aggressive patterns of behavior and a reduction in IQ. But the good news is that lead poisoning is entirely preventable.

To help parents find out if their children’s toys are lead safe, the City of Minneapolis is sponsoring free testing of toys and other objects:

*The two events listed above are also Sustainable Resource Center events which screening children for lead through blood testing. Families can also sign up for free in-home visits that include home lead testing for homes built before 1978 in which a child under the age of six lives or visits frequently. There will also be information on how to receive assistance in applying for grant funds to have home lead hazards safely removed.

**In addition to lead testing, Do It Green! Minnesota’s annual Green Gifts Fair introduces green gift options and low impact ideas to celebrate the holidays with over 80 local artists and vendors, an eco fashion show, cooking demos and tasting, holiday lights recycling, and more.

Suggested toys to bring for testing include:  vinyl toys such as dinosaurs, farm and zoo animals, vinyl lunch boxes and back packs. Also play kitchen foods, kid’s dishes, rubber ducks, wood painted toys and red and yellow plastic toys and any toys that are “chewable.” 

In 2010, 79 children living in Minneapolis were found to be lead-poisoned. Nearly a quarter of a million children living in the United States have blood lead levels high enough to cause significant damage to their health. Major sources of lead exposure among U.S. children are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings.

Parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead in many ways. Here are some simple things parents can do to help protect their families:

For more information, contact Minneapolis 311 or call 1-800-424-LEAD.

To raise awareness of the consequences of lead poisoning among parents and pregnant women who live in homes built before 1978, the Minneapolis Lead Hazard Control Unit is participating in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) Oct. 23 to 29. The City of Minneapolis joins the Center for Disease Control, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in encouraging parents to learn more about preventing lead poisoning. This year's NLPPW theme, Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future, underscores the importance of testing homes, testing children, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.

Published Oct 14, 2011