Recently we discussed the effects of lead on public health, particularly as it relates to violent crime. Something that you may not realize is that although the threat of leaded gasoline has largely been mitigated since it was phased out years ago, there are still consumer goods that could contain the metal, and shoppers should be vigilant about the origin of the products that they purchase.
Two types of goods that you should be careful about buying are jewelry and toys that are made abroad. The reason for this is that the paint process used to give these products their bright colors – particularly orange, red, yellow and green – may involve the use of lead salts. The New York Times reports that use of this substance for creating brightly colored paints dates to the Middle Ages, but only recently has it become clear how disastrous even low levels of lead exposure can be for the nervous system, cardiovascular health and kidneys.
Products such as low-cost purses and apparel sold to teenagers have been found to contain higher levels of lead. Wet Seal, a retailer that caters to these demographic groups, was forced to pay a $10,000 fine by the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, California, which is tasked with monitoring lead levels in consumer products. The concern with these items is that microscopic particles of paint could scrape off onto the hands of owners and end up in their food and drink.
When shopping for holiday gifts for your family and friends, it is essential that you make sure the items you purchase come from reputable companies who specialize in selling non-toxic products made from naturally-procured alternatives to plastic and other materials. Doing so not only protects the health of your loved ones, but you as well.