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Which Everyday Household Items Contain Lead?

Most of us know that lead is toxic and can do irreparable harm, especially to young children.  But what often isn’t known is which everyday products contain it. 

More and more stories are emerging about things like toys and jewellery containing harmful levels of lead, and health experts are adamant that such items should never be in the hands of small children, who are especially prone to put things in their mouths.

But it’s not just a danger to children. Lead can make anyone sick, and it’s found in common items like lipstick. In fact, 33% of lipsticks tested had unsafe levels of lead. Red is the worst colour.

“There’s very strong links between lead and cancer. Lead is a known hormone disrupter,” notes Rick Smith, Director, Environmental Defence. “ Even very low levels over longer period of time can be a big problem.”

Another area of concern is kids’ toys. Despite recalls of some made-in-China items, Canada ‘s allowable levels fall way behind the rest of the world and lead-filled toys still find their way to store shelves.

“It’s very well established that lead impairs the development of kids intellectually. It can create any number of health problems.”

“Our government does a very poor job of monitoring these things, and recalling these products,” Smith adds.

Here’s a list of products that may contain the toxic metal. 

  • paints, pigments, and other artists’ supplies
  • lead crystal
  • protective/decorative coatings on a wide variety of products
  • jewellery
  • decorative figurines
  • fastenings and trim on clothing
  • fishing sinkers and jigs
  • stained glass windows and doors
  • batteries
  • traditional cosmetics
  • pencils