Lead in Christmas lights?
In case you missed Maggie's comment on the post about lead in Halloween toys, I've decided to promote it to the front page. Thank you, Maggie, for letting us know about this.
Unfortunately, there are many hidden lead dangers that parents should be aware of, especially parents of small children and infants. I became aware of this because I work for a health department and receive the recall notices regularly on products, and I have three young kids.
First, many everyday metal objects like car keys should NEVER be given to a baby to play with because they can contain lead. What does a baby do, but put the keys directly in his or her mouth! Another common culprit is cheap metal jewelry, like the kind sold at the Dollar Store or out of vending machines. Give these to your toddler or even a young girl and she is likely to be found mouthing them and ingesting lead. There was also a recent recall of a heart-shaped metal charm (a give away item as a promotion on a box of Rebok tennis shoes) that was swallowed by a little boy and when he died they found dangerously high levels of lead in his blood and a clear x-ray of the heart in his stomach. Lead poisoning can lead to a number of health problems, including impairted mental function and (at very high levels) death. Please never give a small child metal objects to play with.
Finally, one precaution for parents this holiday season. Wash your hands after handling christmas lights. Handling them can result in a small amount of lead exposure. Though the exposure isn't great, and not likely to hurt you (since you only do this once a year) it still is a good idea to be careful (since it never hurts to wash your hands). And obviously, have your children wash their hands if they are helping hang the christmas lights.
Lead exposure has a cumulative effect. So that multiple exposures over time can be harmful.