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Children being poisoned, government dragging feet

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Read this in the paper this morning, wondered what you guys would think. First and foremost, I posted this to warn you guys in case your daughters or someone you know wears these necklaces. Secondly, I want to know what you think about the Canadian Government's stance on this. I think these types of jewelry should be pulled from the shelves immediately!:

Children being poisoned, government dragging feet


TORONTO -- Lesley Svendsen's voice chokes as she recalls her daughter's torment during the weeks she was unsuspectingly being poisoned by a necklace.

Lyndsey, 5, became hyperactive and agitated, threw temper tantrums and at times went "out of control," all within a few weeks of the time she began wearing the costume jewelry, her mother says. It was eventually found to be 100-per-cent lead.

"We didn't know for weeks what it was," Svendsen says. "My husband just discovered by accident that it was lead when the clasp broke and she (Lyndsey) asked him to fix it."

By the time they suspected the cause, Lyndsey's blood-lead levels were elevated to just under 10 micrograms per decilitre of blood -- the level at which a child is deemed have clinical lead poisoning.

That was five years ago, and today Lyndsey still has learning difficulties.

Shortly after the incident, Health Canada issued a national warning about the specific necklace that harmed Lyndsey. Svendsen has been lobbying ever since for laws to stop the sale of all jewelry with high levels of lead.

However, in recent weeks, tests were done on 13 items bought randomly at discount, gift and novelty stores in Toronto showed nine leached dangerous amounts of lead.

Some consisted of as high as 93 per cent lead -- Health Canada's recommended level is less than .06 per cent -- and only one had a warning label.

They included necklaces, pendants, bracelets, rings, hair clips and key chains, all priced at less than $3 and sold next to toys and other items sold to children

No level of lead is deemed safe for a child, and experts say even the accepted levels are too high. Health effects from lead exposure are now viewed as virtually permanent. Lead can be stored in bones, soft tissue and organs for decades and can leach out to wreak havoc on body systems 25 years after it was ingested.

Canada has been trying to develop a framework for regulations for lead levels in consumer products, particularly those aimed at children, for three years, and it may be years more before any guidelines are completed, a Health Canada spokesperson says. At present the government is merely asking businesses to voluntarily stop selling most consumer products containing high lead levels.

While the government has warned about lead in many products aimed at children, there is no requirement that imported products not contain hazardous levels of lead.

The 13 items bought in Toronto were tested using a home test kit called Lead Inspector, made by Abotex. Similar kits are available at major hardware stores.

To confirm the results, four samples -- three that had tested positive and one that tested negative -- were taken to a University of Toronto lab for analysis. The lab confirmed the home test results.

Jewelry containing lead "is available pretty much in every dollar store you visit," says Charles Ethier, director-general of Health Canada's product safety program.

This despite the fact that Ottawa twice wrote to 7,855 manufacturers, distributors, importers and retailers of costume jewelry -- in April 1999 and December 2000 -- asking them to stop selling such products or label them as a hazard.

In the summer of 2000, Health Canada surveyed 95 jewelry items meant for children. It found that 69 per cent contained lead, in amounts from 50 to 100 per cent.

But Health Canada didn't issue any general public advisory about the problem till Jan. 8, 2001, even though it had known about the hazards for more than two years.

Short-term exposure to high lead levels can cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma or even death.

The federal government, Health Canada's Ethier says, aims to have regulations in place for children's products and jewelry by March 31, 2004. It has recognized that dealing with the problem shouldn't be postponed until a general strategy on lead in consumer products is developed -- a process that could take years.

I'm not trying to totally disrespect the government, but I think they should be looking into this a little more... if the incident happened five years ago, and a warning was issued shortly after, why won't there be any regulations until next year? I know it's a long process, but this is people's lives and well being here. It's not as if every parent will know what is lead and what isn't at a glance, and this stuff is sold with children's items.

post #2 of 6
Jeez, I thought it was illegal to sell children's products with lead in them! It certainly SHOULD be illegal!

post #3 of 6
sue the manufactureres!
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I agree with you guys. If they can't put it in paint, why can they put it in that stuff?

Is it banned in the states?
post #5 of 6
it is banned in the US!
post #6 of 6
That's utterly appalling. How many kids have been poisoned in the meantime? I thought lead had been banned for decades!
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