Lead resurfaces as an issue for parents...Expert commentary

The Evansville Early Childhood Coalition has been meeting since the spring to identify problems in our community concerning the young child. As a part of the Health and Nutrition subcommittee, my first meeting was about lead poisoning. I was surprised that this "old" issue was still hanging around.

I had heard about lead poisoning back in the early nineties when a good friend of mine was pushed out of the child care business because they "thought" she "might" have lead paint in her day care home, and was promptly shut down.

It's funny how you don't think the issue will ever come to your house.  When one of my birds died from eating paint chips, I thought about my friend, and was glad my children were more or less grown.

Then the issue popped up again at this meeting. Years have passed, and I thought, they haven't put led in paint for years. Can this really be important? I even asked a doctor friend of mine, and she confirmed that it was more or less a dead issue.

Then it happened. The toy recalls. I was shocked to hear that what was once an issue associated with poverty was coming back to haunt us throughout the culture and that children from all socio economic levels were involved.

It wasn't the paint that we buy here in the United States, which was banned in the late 1970's. It's paint used over seas that is not regulated. Paint, it seems, that covers our most prized toys made from reputable toy makers like Fisher Price and Mattel.

These toys are made in China, and China is a nation growing just too fast. When my son and daughter in law lived in China, they could attest that the care and feeding of children was very different than we find here in the States.

In addition to toys painted with lead paint, there is the added charm of cheap children's jewelry, plastics, clothing with zipper tags that have all been shown to contain enough lead to kill a child.  Today there are an estimated 14,000 children in Indiana under the age of seven who suffer from lead poisoning.  Lead poisoning causes permanent damage to the brain and nervous system.

What to do? Don't blame anyone - just beware and be cautious. Our government does not test toys for safety before they go on the market, so parents have to be aware that certain toys made in China and other areas of the world, toys and goods made by trusted and reputable companies could have deadly lead.

If you are not sure about the safety of your child, have him tested at his doctor's office. And then go to the hardware store and buy a Lead Swab Testing Kit to test your home and your child's toys.

For more information on recently recalled toys contact Fisher Price @ 800-916-4498 or Mattel @www.service.mattel.com. To see a list of recalled products visit The Consumer Product Safety Commission website