Friday, May 18, 2007
7 News Investigations: Get the lead out
We all know that lead paint can be very harmful to kids. It can cause learning disabilities, behavior problems and even death. But paint is not the only place lead can be found lurking. 7's Carmel Cafiero has the details on how hard it is to "Get the Lead Out."
WSVN -- Beth Strachan: "She loves jewelry. She wears it all the time."
Little girls love to play dress-up, and Beth Strachan's 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Charlotte is no exception.
Beth Strachan: "She's really into necklaces and bracelets."
She buys her daughter those little, inexpensive pieces of "kid jewelry" you can find at most stores, supermarkets and even in vending machines.
But what Beth and many parents don't know is they may be putting their little ones in real danger by giving them jewelry full of lead.
In Minneapolis, 4-year-old Jarnell Brown died from lead poisoning when he swallowed the charm off a child's bracelet. The charm was tested to be 99 percent pure lead.
Juanna Graham: "This is something you would think came out of a movie, but it's not. It's my child's life."
Since Jarnell's death three years ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has pulled more than 165 million pieces of dangerous jewelry from the stores.
Julie Vallese: "We are looking for it, and we will continue to announce recalls when we find dangerous levels of lead in children's jewelry."
But are there still some potentially toxic pieces out there?
Our sister station in Boston had 10 pieces of jewelry -- everything from kids necklaces to bracelets and earrings -- tested.
David Kahler: "We did find some failing pieces in the jewelry that was tested."
Nine out of 10 contained lead. More frightening, three of the pieces had levels well above federal guidelines.
David Kahler: "It is shocking to me that the levels that are being found in this jewelry are that high."
What's worse, two of the pieces had exceedingly high levels of what experts call "accessible lead." That's the kind that can rub right off and poison a child.
Julie Vallese: "If they're playing with the jewelry in their hands and then put their hands in their mouth or near their mouth, the lead can be transferred."
Alan Wollf: "The real fear is that they'll swallow it, and lead can be absorbed from the gut."
Accessible lead levels above 175 micrograms per piece are considered a threat to children.
7 News found one piece with more than 400 micrograms and another with more than 1,200 micrograms of lead.
Beth Strachan: "I can't believe that those would be on the market."
Kelly Crosby: "If they're making them for children, I would think that they'd be a safe product."
The CPSC is currently considering a ban on children's jewelry that contains more than .06 percent of total lead.
But with many of these popular accessories coming in from foreign countries, regulating them is not an easy task.
So what can you do to protect your child? Experts say, if you want to be extra safe, it's best to avoid buying metal jewelry altogether for young kids.
If not, make sure your child doesn't put any metal jewelry in their mouth, and have them wash their hands immediately after playing with it.
All simple things you can do to get the lead out.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Consumer Product Safety Commission:
Type "jewelry" into the option box to refine the list here:
Florida Poison Control Information Center:
Emergency Number: 1-800-222-1222