Sources of Lead

Lead in food - After phasing out lead in gasoline, reducing lead levels in food should be our greatest health priority. Lead intake from fresh vegetables and fruits can be reduced by thorough washing and by peeling root vegetables. Food produced close to heavy traffic or lead-emitting industries will have more lead. Fertilizers with sewage sludge added to them may boost soil lead levels – check with the supplier. Lead in processed foods is picked up at various stages from growing to packaging. There are estimates that 13 to 22 per cent of our dietary lead intake is from lead-soldered food cans. Unfortunately, the U.S. does not regulate and test for lead in all canned foods. The current FDA guideline for lead in most food is 0.25 ppm. Food in cans with lead soldered seams can be dangerous, particularly cans that contain acidic substances such as fruit juices, fruits and some vegetables. Imported canned goods are more likely to have lead soldered seams. Cans with round bottoms (extruded cans) are safe and do not have a seam or use lead. You can test any can seam with LEAD INSPECTOR. Watch for white powdery lead compounds beneath corroded lead foil wine bottle wrap, especially after horizontal storage. You can test wine bottle wrap with LEAD INSPECTOR to see if it contains lead.

Drinking water and plumbing - After several hours, tap water standing in pipes may dissolve unhealthy amounts of lead from pipe solder. In areas with soft, non mineralized water, run taps for seconds or until cold before using water to drink or cook. Request lead-free solder when plumbing is installed or repaired, and don’t drink water from the hot water tap, as it has higher levels of dissolved metals. Excessive lead levels in potable water may be determined by using LEAD INSPECTOR. Lead piping in older homes and solder joints can also be tested for lead using LEAD INSPECTOR.

Soil, Dust/Dirt & Play Sand - The closer your home is to heavy automobile traffic or to lead-emitting industries, the more lead is deposited in household dust and in gardens. Every cigarette smoked adds a measurable amount of lead to household dust. Regular damp dusting, wet mopping, and cleaning, especially near windows and entrances, help control lead dust. You can test for lead particulate in dust by using Lead Inspector.

Keep young children from playing near traffic or lead-emitting industries. Ensure they have a frequent, thorough hand-washing. Sucking a finger with city dust on it can add a serious dose of lead to a child’s daily intake.

If you suspect your garden has elevated lead deposits from traffic or industry, have soil tested with LEAD INSPECTOR, before growing food.

Watch for peeling exterior paint, so that paint flakes don’t contaminate soil around buildings.

Burning candles with lead wicks not only emits lead particles into the air – but those particles also ultimately settle out as dust on walls and floors. The lead-dust from these candles may actually be mistaken for lead-based paint.

Paint and home renovations (Dirt and Dust) - In the 1970′s and earlier, house plants contained as much as 50 per cent lead!!! Many household paints contained lead prior to 1979. Children should be watched in homes and day care centers to prevent their swallowing paint chips or chewing painted surfaces, including toys and older cribs.

Test older cribs for lead based paints before purchasing or using as children may chew paint from the railings and ingest lead!

Children should be kept away from sanding and paint removal (during renovations) in older houses, and adults should wear filter masks approved for use with toxic dusts. Burning off paint or using mechanical sanders boost your lead exposure. Paint chips and renovation dirt/dust can be checked for the presence of lead by using LEAD INSPECTOR.

Safe china and ceramics - Almost all American and Canadian ceramics makers meet lead safety standards for glazes. In some imported ceramics from Mexico, China, Italy, Spain, India, Korea, Macao, Pakistan, Thailand etc., however, heavy lead leaching has caused severe lead poisoning. Before buying imported ceramics to be used for food and drink ask (1) the supplier, (2) the maker, or (3) Food & Drug Administration (FDA) about the product’s lead safety. For imported ceramics already in use, testing can be carried out for lead escaping from the glaze by using LEAD INSPECTOR.

Furniture, toys and antiques - Imported items such as these often contain lead. Older items which have been handed down from one family to another (i.e., painted cribs & toys) also have been found to contain lead. These items may be tested for lead using LEAD INSPECTOR.

Lead Crystal Glasses, decanters & pitchers - These sources of lead can produce situations that are extremely hazardous to your health! Acidic juices & wines should never be stored in these items for extended periods of time. Test these items for lead using LEAD INSPECTOR.

Printed materials - Newspapers, magazines, & plastic bread bags often contain lead-based inks which can be harmful to children, if chewed. Avoid using these materials to wrap food.

PVC Mini-blinds - These inexpensive plastic blinds (about 1″ wide) should not be used in homes, especially with pregnant women and children under 6 years of age. Do not allow children to come in contact with these blinds. Health and Welfare Canada reports that these blinds have unacceptable levels of surface lead through production and airborne particulate. These blinds have also been found to contain lead in their vinyl formulation (used as a UV ray inhibitor).

Be sure to clean any mini-blinds periodically with TSP (Trisodium phosphate) cleaner to remove surface lead. (TSP is available at your local hardware store.) Test your plastic blinds for lead using LEAD INSPECTOR.

Bath Tub Glazes - Test your bath tub glaze, especially if it’s old! There have been recent reports of acute lead poisoning in young children from leaded bath tub glazes via drinking bath water. Always bathe children in fresh warm water. Never re-heat cold bath water that has been sitting in the tub as dissolved lead will accumulate in tubs with a leaded glaze. You can test any bath tub glaze using LEAD INSPECTOR.

Candle Wicks - Candles made with LEAD CORE WICKS (used to support the wick upright & make the candle last longer) can release lead when burned. The lead can be absorbed by inhalation. Wicks with tin or zinc cores or made simply with cotton do not pose a health hazard – unless the candle is burned in an unsafe manner.

Burning candles with lead wicks not only emits lead particles into the air – but those particles also ultimately settle out as dust on walls and floors. The lead-dust from these candles may actually be mistaken for lead-based paint.

Candles imported from China were most likely to have lead core wicks, though candles made in Canada, United States, Mexico & Taiwan were also found to have lead core wicks. Candles with lead cores should be discarded. Check with retailers before purchasing candles. If the retailer doesn’t have the information, shop elsewhere. Test your candle wicks for lead using LEAD INSPECTOR.

Jewelry - Inexpensive children’s toy jewelry (trinkets, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, metallic hair accessories and “big heavy” finger rings) can contain high amounts of lead, which poses a risk if toddlers, young children or teens suck or chew on it. A survey of inexpensive jewelry – a range of items costing less than $20 – found 70% contained lead! Especially beware of jewelry purchased from vending machines or discount stores that sell for less than $2.00. If your child is likely to chew or suck on jewelry which contains lead, discard it immediately or test these items for lead first by using LEAD INSPECTOR. Current “proposed” limits for children’s jewellery & toys is 600 mg/kg (600 parts per million – ppm) total lead and 90 mg/kg (90 ppm) migratable or leachable lead. Samples of jewellery containing lead!

Children’s Toys (painted toys & soft vinyl PVC products)

Mattel Fisher/Price has recalled million of these toys that have been found to contain lead.

Soft vinyl plastic (PVC – poly vinyl chloride or painted) toys could be sucked or chewed on by a very young child for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis, hereby exposing the child to surface lead, if any.

The international standard (European Standard EN-71) is a limit of 90 ppm releasable lead in children’s toys. Any level above this is considered dangerous!

Test all your children’s toys using LEAD INSPECTOR

Ceramic Tile - Some glazes on ceramic tile (floor, wall & ceiling tiles) were found to contain lead. Glazes were generally made with white lead and mixed with finely ground metallic oxides that provided the color. Colors included yellow from lead and antimony! These tiles were produced from many different countries around the world. You can easily test ceramic tile for a lead glaze using LEAD INSPECTOR!

Mexican Candy - A seemingly harmless indulgence – can contain a poison that is especially dangerous to children. Regulators have found unsafe lead levels in candy – most made in Mexico – but test results almost always are kept from parents and health officials.
The California guideline for lead in candy is 0.2 ppm. The FDA sets that level at 0.5 ppm. Wrappers must register 600 ppm lead for the state to consider them toxic. A bilingual guide to help parents avoid toxic treats is available.

You can test Mexican candies & wrappers using LEAD INSPECTOR!