Trouble in toyland: Potential source of lead

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 1, January, February 2010, page(s) 10 Letters
H.C. George Wong, MD

There was a recall of 45 million toys and other children’s products containing lead and other chemicals in 2007 in the US. It prompted the passing of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in August 2008. It gave much needed power for regulation by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The US Public Interest Research Group released the 24th annual survey of toy safety on 24 November 2009, just before the holiday shopping season.[1] It reported that “so far in 2009, CPSC has recalled nearly 1.3 million toys or other children’s products (including jewelry) for violations of the lead paint standard.”

The potential source of lead from these children’s products should be in­cluded in the non-occupational exposures noted in a recent article (“Occupational exposure to inorganic lead,” BCMJ 2009:51[9]:388). The author point­ed out “take-home” exposure could affect spouses and children. In this case, “home” exposure could contri­bute to the problem. 

In addition, working in manufacturing plants for these toys and jewelry should be included in taking past occupational history.

Besides the ayurvedic medications,[2] lead may be present as adult­erant in other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)/Asian patent medicine,[3] including Chinese patent medicine of herbal origin.[4]
—H.C. George Wong, MD

References Top

1. US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG). Trouble in toyland :The 24th annual survey of toy safety. (assessed 25 November, 2009).
2.  Gair R. Heavy metal poisoning from Ayur­vedic medicines. BCMJ 2008;50:105.
3. Ko RJ. Adulterants in Asian patent medicine. N Engl J Med 1998;339:847.
4. Wong HCG. Generalized allergic maculopapular eruption associated with Pros­tate Gland Pills, a Chinese proprietary medicine of herbal origin. Ann R Coll Physicians Surg Can 2000;33:104-106.