August 4, 2000
Lead Hazard Identified in Key Chains Distributed at Colorado
Source: Colorado Department of Public Health
DENVER The Colorado Department
of Public Health and Environment has issued a warning about the hazards of lead, which can
be found in every day items such as key chains.
The warning came after the announcement by the Denver Department of Environmental Health
and the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, Aug. 3, about high lead levels found in promotional
key chains that were distributed at a 1998 Rockies game.
State Health Department lead experts urged individuals to refrain from giving young
children key chains to play with to reduce the potential risk of lead poisoning.
Coloradans also can call the State Health Departments Lead Poisoning Prevention
Program at 1-800-886-7689 if they have questions about a possible lead-based product or
lead poisoning and testing.
The key chains containing lead were identified by the Denver Department of Environmental
Health during an investigation of elevated blood-lead levels in a child treated by a
private physician. Anyone who has one of the key chains, which feature a small metal
baseball mitt, should keep them out of reach of any child six years of age or younger.
According to the Denver Department of Environmental Health the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission is currently conducting an investigation to determine if the key chains
were distributed nationally.
Jane E. Norton, executive director of State Health Department, said, "This is an
unfortunate reminder of lead hazards that can be found in every day products. Its
disheartening when a common item such as a key chain can be harmful to a young
Terry Tiller Taylor, director of the State Health Departments Lead Poisoning
Prevention Program, said that lead is considered a hazardous substance and that children
six years of age and younger are most at risk for lead poisoning, especially toddlers,
because they tend to put objects in their mouths.
"Not every key chain, key or product contains lead, but, when in doubt, take
necessary precautions and keep items that you suspect might contain lead out of a
childs reach," Tiller Taylor said.
"Individuals also should wash their hands thoroughly before picking up or playing
with a child as lead can be transferred to the child from an individuals hands if
they were handling an object that might contain lead."
Explaining that a child with an elevated blood lead level of 10-micrograms per deciliter
or above needs follow up and repeated screening, Tiller-Taylor emphasized, "Children
with elevated blood lead levels can suffer from learning disabilities, slowed mental
development, hearing problems and stunted growth. Because lead accumulates in the body,
exposure to even small amounts of lead can contribute to the overall blood lead levels and
increases the risk of adverse health effects."
Other possible sources of lead exposure include:
Imported plastic mini-blinds
Cultural medicines including:
Greta, Azarcon and Aylooah
Painted kitchen utensils
Cosmetics: Surma and Kohl, which
are chalks found in eyeliners
Old toys painted with lead paint
Burning of lead painted wood
Leaded crystal glassware
Pool cue chalk
Imported ceramic/pottery dishes
Colored inks (comics)
Plastic coatings on electrical
Colored foil seals on wine bottles
Some candy wrappers
Tamarindo jam pots (glaze)
Tiller Taylor said, "Parents and
care givers should make certain that children do not mouth any objects not specifically
intended for that purpose."
State health officials also noted that children adopted from foreign orphanages should be
tested for lead.
Another product that has been identified as a source of lead exposure in children is
Tiller Taylor added, "People also need to know the dangers of ingesting or inhaling
dust from lead-based paint. It's important that people also understand that lead dust is
just as toxic and that it is the age of the home that determines if lead is present, not
the cost, or the income of the occupants."
A common myth exists that lead-based paint is found only in public housing or in
apartments and homes rented by low-income families. "If a home was built before 1978,
no matter what neighborhood it's located in, it most likely has some lead-based
paint," Tiller-Taylor said.
The Colorado State Health Department provided the following tips for individuals who think
their home might have high levels of lead:
Have young children tested by their
health provider for lead poisoning, even if they seem healthy;
Wash children's hands often,
especially before meals;
Wash children's pacifiers, bottles,
and toys frequently;
Do not use dry sandpaper, dry
scrapers, or a heat torch on painted surfaces that may contain lead;
Keep floors, window sills and other
Make certain that children eat
nutritious meals high in iron, calcium and vitamin C;
Wipe off shoes or remove them
before entering the house;
Do not try to remove lead-based
paint yourself. Use a professional, when possible.
Safety Alerts compiles
comprehensive safety recall information for the United States. SafeMail is a free email
service to warn consumers of faulty products and contaminated foods. For complete
information regarding current recalls, past recalls and timely product warning
notification visit: www.safetyalerts.com.