Last updated: Mar 02, 2016

Yes, the toy box.


The main threat here is lead-coated toys. In the past two fiscal years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued 21 recalls of lead-tainted toys, including learning toys and train sets, most of which were made in China. (This number doesnt include lead-related childrens-jewelry recalls.) “Weve had a real wake-up call that has made it clear that every toy on the market has not been inspected,” notes Jerome Paulson, MD, co-director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Childrens Health and the Environment in Washington, D.C.

If you have little ones, consider lead the number-one danger in your home, says Philip J. Landrigan, MD, chairman of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine and professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. In very high doses, lead can cause convulsions and brain damage in young children.

“But if children are exposed to it in even small amounts, they can have a loss of IQ, a shortening of attention span, and behavioral problems,” he explains. “Theyre also more likely to have dyslexia and to drop out of school.”

Checking every toy in the house for lead may not help because not all home tests are accurate. Instead, “make smart buys,” he says. “Dont get brightly colored plastic or painted toys.” Books and unpainted hardwood toys are the safest bets. Research toys at www.healthytoys.org or in Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org) before you go shopping. And check the CPSCs Web site (www.cpsc.gov) for toy-recall info.

Other ways to protect your kids: Have them wash their hands after playing and before eating, and get them tested for lead. (Many pediatricians test lead-in-blood levels at the 1- and 2-year-old checkups; if yours doesnt, request the test.)