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Michael Levine
Michael Levine
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Tighter Lead Laws for Manufacturers of Children’s Items

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According to the Washington Post, all Child Products will have to meet a new, tougher lead standard by February 10, 2009. The new law will allow companies to sell off inventory on products that will be banned by February 10, 2009. Any products in inventory that do not meet the higher standard by that date will have to be destroyed.

The new law stipulates that children’s products will not be allowed to have a total lead content above 600 parts per million. By August 10, 2009 the number drops by 50 % to 300 parts per million. In 2012, the number drops to 100 parts per million.

Unfortunately, the law does not go into effect for another few months, so there will be another holiday season without strict lead standards for toys.

"This holiday season is ‘buyer beware,’ " said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for U.S. PIRG, a Washington advocacy group.

Some companies have already prepared for the February 10, 2009 deadline. RC2 began clearing out inventory that did not meet the new limit, and Toys R Us does not have any toys that fall short of the new standard.

High lead levels can be dangerous. In children, it can cause anemia, muscle weakness and attention-deficit problems, impair growth, and reduce the ability to understand language, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lead poisoning statistics also show that an estimated 890,000 U.S. children ages one to five have elevated blood lead levels.

The primary source of lead exposure among children is from lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust and soil that are found in and around old, deteriorating buildings. Lead poisoning statistics show that a substantial number of families still live in housing containing a high percentage of lead. Throughout the last fifty years, the level of lead considered to adversely affect children has dropped. In the 1960s, 60 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood was considered the level for concern. In the 1980s, this level was lowered to 25 micrograms. By 1990, the concerned level was lowered to 10 micrograms. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created a national goal to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in the country by 2010.