Toxic lead levels found in used consumer products

Researchers are finding toxic lead in used consumer products. The levels are dangerous: 700 times higher than the federal limit.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Look, this green and orange truck is cute. But it has a bit of a history.

It's old. It was on sale at an antique store in McMinnville for $39. It doesn't matter what the price tag is though. You probably wouldn't want it if you knew it has more than 50,000 parts per million of lead in it.

As holiday shopping season picks up, you might want to think twice about buying second hand consumer items in antique stores or junk stores. You might be getting more than you bargained for - as researchers find used consumer products made with toxic lead.

“The sale of used items in the United States is not regulated by any federal agency and as a result, it is possible that Americans are bringing the lead poisoning hazards of past generations back into their homes,” State University of New York professor Laurel Sharmer said in a statement. “It is very important for consumers to understand that you can’t tell if a product contains lead by looking at it.”

The researchers went shopping in antiques stores and second hand stores in Virginia, New York and Oregon, according to the news release. Some of the toys, kitchen utensils and salvage had lead concentrations that were 700 times higher than the federal limit.

The scientists took swabs of items during their shopping trip to make sure the products had lead in it - collecting anything from an ice cream scoop to a turtle necklace to a Garfield cup.

Then the researchers took the items back to the Geoarcheological Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. Nineteen of the 28 items exceeded the safe lead level, according to the researchers.

"Children should never be allowed to come into contact with antiques or used products sold by a seller who is not regulated by a government agency such as the Consumer Product Safety Administration or the FDA," the researchers warned.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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