June 25, 1996
Release # 96-150
(301) 504-0580 Ext. 1193
CPSC Finds Lead Poisoning Hazard for Young
Children in Imported Vinyl Miniblinds
WASHINGTON, D.C. After testing and analyzing
imported vinyl miniblinds, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has
determined that some of these blinds can present a lead poisoning hazard for young
children. Twenty-five million non-glossy, vinyl miniblinds that have lead added to
stabilize the plastic in the blinds are imported each year from China, Taiwan, Mexico, and
CPSC found that over time the plastic deteriorates from exposure to sunlight and heat to
form lead dust on the surface of the blind. The amount of lead dust that formed from the
deterioration varied from blind to blind.
In homes where children ages 6 and younger may be present, CPSC recommends that consumers
remove these vinyl miniblinds. Young children can ingest lead by wiping their hands on the
blinds and then putting their hands in their mouths. Adults and families with older
children generally are not at risk because they are not likely to ingest lead dust from
the blinds. Lead poisoning in children is associated with behavioral problems, learning
disabilities, hearing problems, and growth retardation. CPSC found that in some blinds,
the levels of lead in the dust was so high that a child ingesting dust from less than one
square inch of blind a day for about 15 to 30 days could result in blood levels at or
above the 10 microgram per deciliter amount CPSC considers dangerous for young children.
"Some of the vinyl blinds had a level of lead in the dust that would not be
considered a health hazard, while others had very high levels," said CPSC Chairman
Ann Brown. "Since consumers cannot determine the amount of lead in the dust on their
blinds, parents with young children should remove these vinyl miniblinds from their
CPSC asked the Window Covering Safety Council, which represents the industry, to
immediately change the way it produces vinyl miniblinds by removing the lead added to
stabilize the plastic in these blinds. Manufacturers have made the change and new
miniblinds without added lead should appear on store shelves beginning around July 1 and
should be widely available over the next 90 days.
Stores will sell the new vinyl blinds packaged in cartons indicating that the blinds are
made without added lead. The cartons may have labeling such as "new
formulation," "nonleaded formula," "no lead added," or "new!
non-leaded vinyl formulation." New blinds without lead should sell in the same price
range as the old blinds at about $5 to $10 each. CPSC recommends that consumers with young
children remove old vinyl miniblinds from their homes and replace them with new miniblinds
made without added lead or with alternative window coverings. Washing the blinds does not
prevent the vinyl blinds from deteriorating, which produces lead dust on the surface.
The Arizona and North Carolina Departments of Health first alerted CPSC to the problem of
lead in vinyl miniblinds. CPSC tested the imported vinyl miniblinds for lead at its
laboratory. The laboratories of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Army's Aberdeen
Test Center used electron microscope technology to confirm that as the plastic in the
blinds deteriorated, dust formed on the surface of the blind slats. This testing also
established that the dust came from the blinds and not from another source. CPSC
laboratory tests confirmed that this dust contained lead.
"This lead poisoning is mainly a hazard for children ages 6 and younger," said
Chairman Brown. "Adults and older children generally are not at risk because they are
not likely to ingest lead dust from the blinds."
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the
unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the
agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury and for
information on CPSC's fax-on-demand service, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or
CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order a press release through fax-on-demand,
call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release number.
Consumers can report product hazards to firstname.lastname@example.org.