Lead and kids don’t mix.
That might not sound like a major revelation considering it was almost 30 years ago when researchers first discovered children with higher levels of lead exposure had more difficulty following directions, more hyperactivity and lower overall functioning. Flash forward to the present, in the wake of Mattel’s (MAT) massive 10 million toy recall last year, lead exposure remains a hot button issue for parents seeking to safeguard their kids from toxicity.
But for caregivers in Washington, playtime just got a bit safer. On April 1, Washington state governor Christine Gregoire signed the Children’s Safe Products Act of 2008, reducing the allowable level of lead to 90 parts per million in the state. (The federal standard for lead content remains 600 parts per million.) “Parents and consumers have the right to know whether or not the products they are buying are safe," says Blair Anundson, program associate with the Washington Public Interest Research Group. "This bill insures that we avoid the worst chemicals while requiring disclosure from manufacturers about what else is in their products.”
The signing of the Safe Products Act comes at the heels of another major triumph against toxic toys. As of March 1, Toys “R” Us lowered the lead content threshold in its toys' surface coatings to 90 parts per million. They are also phasing out chemicals found in vinyl that have raised safety concerns for young children.
Regardless of whether or not your state is tough on toxicity, make informed choices at the toy store. Here are five of the best lead free toys.