Nineteen toys manufactured in China by American companies were recalled last year due to danger of lead exposure—six times the number reported in 2006, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). While the use of paint containing lead, a heavy metal linked to irreversible learning and behavioral problems, is illegal in the U.S., American toy manufacturers are still allowed to use lead in their products without listing it or other potentially dangerous substances, including chemicals, on the label.
Small children are especially vulnerable because many playthings end up in their mouths. These tips will help you protect your little one:
•Choose cloth teethers, bibs and changing pads over those lined with vinyl, which can contain toxins, including lead.
• Do not buy metal jewelry. Healthytoys.org, a database of more than 1,200 children's products tested for lead and other toxins, found lead in nearly 40 percent of the jewelry samples.
• Sign up for e-mail alerts of recalled toys at cpsc.gov.
• Check healthytoys.org to see whether individual toys have tested positive for lead or other dangerous substances.
• Call 800-222-1222, the Poison Control hotline, if you suspect your child has been exposed to lead.