Lead contamination has been connected to brain damage and behavioral problems. Now there's a way for parents to know which toys are safe, and which ones to avoid.
21-month-old Dillon Green said it better than any adult could, "Uh, oh."
A survey of 1,500 toys by a coalition of environmental groups found 20 percent of toys tested had detectable levels of lead. A Sponge Bob bat tested at 1,200 parts per million, twice the federal standard.
New federal regulations will ban the sale of toys testing for lead at 600 parts per million beginning on February 10. By 2011, the ban will be extended to toys with lead measured at just 100 parts per million, but for now all are legal to sell.
"As a parent that doesn't make any sense to me," said Michael Green, from the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland.
Mary Brune is another concerned parent. She co-founded M.O.M., or Making Our Milk Safe. It's an organization which aims to eliminate toxic chemicals in breast milk. She took a Loop 'n Loom toy from her child when she found it will be banned for sale in two months.
"If I'm aware of these data bases to go to, to find out if something is safe, and I had something in my home. What about other parents who are just unaware these resources even exist?" said Brune.
You can find that data base at Healthytoys.org. It has the results of all 1,500 toys tested in a recent survey by the Ecology Center and other groups.
Twenty-one percent of the toys made in China had detectable levels of lead, but surprisingly, 35 percent of the toys made in the U.S. tested positive too.
The Toy Industry Association however questions the survey results, saying this "testing is not recognized as appropriate for determining compliance."
It supports the upcoming ban and maintains industry testing found the problem is diminishing.
A this Santa Rosa family is concerned just the same.
A toy cable car they bought at the Cable Car Museum in San Francisco tested at 1,500 parts per million. The family's outing to Union Square, turned into a lesson.
"Evan, this is so that people can be aware of what toys aren't really safe for children because of what's being put into it," said Birgit Zacker, from Santa Rosa.
7 On Your Side contacted the Cable Car Museum and informed them of the test results. The museum immediately took the toy cable car off its shelf.
Free Lead Toy Testing:
Center for Environmental Health
2201 Broadway, Suite 302
Oakland, CA 94612-3017
December 8 - December 23, 2008
Noon - 6pm
Check out toys that have already been tested. Lead Toy Test Results: HealthyToys.org
You can read the response the Toy Industry Association gave to 7 On Your Side. Click here