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Lead-in-Paint Guidelines Released by CPSC

Apr 29, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has just issued new guidelines for lead in paint. The Web site Playthings reported that the new standards involve testing protocols for paint and some painted products that verify lead limits on toys and children’s products.  The definition of lead standards is contained in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and includes Toy Industry Association (TIA) recommendations.

The TIA said the new standards include composite testing for like and different toy parts and are based on a recommendation last month that was submitted by its Laboratory Testing Technical Working Group, said Playthings. The standards indicate that “composite testing for like parts is appropriate and, in some instances, may be necessary to obtain valid analytical results,” explained Playthings.  Also, Playthings noted, adding that the protocol also “supports composite testing for different parts,” pointing out that testing must be conducted in order to ensure that the samples being tested “are not diluted to the point that excessive lead in a single paint would not be detected.”

“TIA is pleased that the CPSC has accepted our recommendation that composite testing is an acceptable protocol in the evaluation of lead testing requirements,” said Carter Keithley, TIA president, quoted Playthings. “We were able to convene an extremely knowledgeable and respected group of laboratory experts to develop input that is based on the most current scientific protocols. This was a truly collaborative effort, and we are pleased with its outcome,” Keithley added. Composite testing is an issue of concern because one part can be an element in a wide variety of toys.

We have long been covering the issue of lead exposure and poisoning, which is considered by many to be one of the most important chronic environmental illnesses affecting children today, with exposure leading to a variety of dangerous effects. Lead exposure can cause brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems in children and unborn children. In adults, lead is known to cause cancer, reproductive harm, and nervous system damage.

Lead poisoning is difficult to recognize because its symptoms are subtle and no specific indicators exist or point to contamination. Children with lead poisoning may experience irritability, sleeplessness or excess lethargy, poor appetite, headaches, abdominal pain with or without vomiting—and generally without diarrhea—constipation, and changes in activity level.  A child with lead toxicity can be iron deficient and pale because of anemia and can be either hyperactive or lethargic.  There may also be dental pointers, for instance, lead lines on gingival tissue.

Despite efforts to control lead and the success in decreasing lead poisoning, serious cases still occur.  Once poisoned, no organ system is immune and of particular concern is the developing brain because of leads’ long-lasting effects, which can continue well into puberty and beyond.

The CPSC’s new paint testing standard guidelines document—CPSC-CH-E1003-09, "Standard Operating Procedure for Determining Lead in Paint and Other Similar Surface Coatings" (April 26, 2009)—can be accessed at: http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/CPSC-CH-E1003-09.pdf


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