LABORATORY MEASUREMENTS OF  LEAD AND CADMIUM AVAILABLE FOR INGESTION IN SELECTED CHILDREN'S PRODUCS MADE OF POLYVINYL CHLORIDE

MEASUREMENT OF LEAD & CADMIUM
IN ADDITIONAL TOY SAMPLES FROM VARIOUS U.S. CITIES
and METHODOLOGICAL
DETAILS OF LAB ANALYSIS


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References (for this document only.  Go to PVC Home Page for references for this entire report. Bottom of this page)
The chewing and swallowing behavior of children is a common source of lead exposure. However, swallowing is not even necessary for exposure. Simply chewing and sucking on plastic cables is a known source of lead poisoning   Three commonly chewed products were incubated under mild acid conditions at body temperature using Consumer Product Safety Commission protocols. The experiment explored whether ingesting even a tiny amount of a Gemini phone cord, Disney Minnie Totes key ring, or Kentucky Fried Chicken toy could pose a risk.

The results show that swallowing less than one-hundredth of an ounce of vinyl would release measurable quantities of lead. In fact, Table 5 (below) shows that all three items exceeded the ingestion limit used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (15 g/day). The agency limit is 30 times higher than the maximum ingestion level permitted in California under Proposition 65. The Commission uses it despite acknowledging that "..any ingestion of lead is undesirable because the effects of lead ingestion are cumulative, and other sources of lead may be available to children…."

Table 5. Migration of Lead Under Conditions That Mimic Swallowing 250 g of an Item (0.00881 ounces)

Item

Store

Available Lead

(g)

cable; Gemini modular phone cord

Kmart

21.6

key ring; Disney Minnie Totes

Target

34.2

toy; Kentucky Fried Chicken

Toys R Us

23.0

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Summary & conclusions

Lead in PVC
(What is vinyl plastic?)

Abbreviations: g, micrograms. All products were purchased in Chicago, Illinois. Items treated using Consumer Product Safety Commission protocols for extractable lead as described in Appendix V. The permitted exposure level for lead under California’s Proposition 65 is 0.5 g/day.

These results also demonstrate that swallowing less than one-thousandth of an ounce of any product in Table 5 would release enough lead to exceed the legal exposure limit of Proposition 65 by more than four-fold. The lead migration displayed by the vinyl Kentucky Fried Chicken is especially disturbing since the toy is actually designed to be put into children’s mouths.

Contaminated
dust is a
health risk

Phthalate Plasticizers

Other hazards

References 

Lead- or cadmium-contaminated dust is especially hazardous since it can easily enter the body in multiple ways. Routes of ingestion include licking, sucking, mouthing, inhalation, and hand-to-mouth behavior. Since real life behaviors encompass multiple exposure pathways, the data showing the presence of surface lead and cadmium was not confined to a specific route of ingestion. Instead, the results show the total amount of lead or cadmium that is available for ingestion on the product surface. Metals which are not ingested immediately can become part of the indoor environment and be ingested later by the same variety of pathways.

Table 6 (below) shows that lead dust was measured on the surfaces of seven products right out of the package. Lead levels on six products exceeded the Proposition 65 limit by 4 to 470 fold. Five of these products were purchased in California. More than half of the items contained lead dust at levels similar to, or greater than the Consumer Product Safety Commission ingestion limit.

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Most recent list of toys made with PVC (March 1999)

Table 6. Lead and Cadmium Dust Present on New Vinyl Children’s Products: Exposures Provided by Average Products

Item

Store

Lead

(g)

Cadmium

(g)

backpack; Minnie’s Spring Fever

Disney; LA

1.984

nd

backpack; 101 Dalmations

Kmart; LA

19.430

1.740

backpack; Barbie

Kmart; SF

14.210

1.160

rain coat; Columbia

Columbia; Por

235.733

nd

rain hat; Tweety

Warner Bros.; LA

9.217

nd

tent pole; Barbie Slumber

Toys R Us; SF

13.404

nd

totebag; Tweety

Wal-Mart; Chi

0.240

nd

Update, Jan. '99:
Lead, Cadmium, Phthalates still found in Children's Products
Abbreviations: g, micrograms; nd, not detected. LA, Los Angeles, CA; SF, San Francisco, CA; Por, Portland, OR; Chi, Chicago, IL. Average exposures represent the mean of triplicates. The permitted exposure level for lead and cadmium under California’s Proposition 65 is 0.5 g/day and 0.05 g/day respectively. Areas of products are as follows: Minnie’s Spring Fever: 96 in2; 101 Dalmations: 290 in2 ; Barbie: 290 in2 ; Columbia: 1,700 in2; Tweety rain hat: 79 in2; Barbie Slumber: 36 in2; and Tweety totebag: 240 in2

Vinyl products
release toxic
metals during
degradation

Two children’s products were made even more dangerous by the additional presence of cadmium. Table 6 shows more than 1.1 g of cadmium present on the surfaces of new 101 Dalmations and Barbie backpacks in addition to greater than 14 g of lead dust. The cadmium levels are more than 23 to 35 times higher than the amount permitted in California, where they were purchased.

Lead and cadmium were released as toxic dust during the degradation of vinyl children’s products. Figure 1 (below) shows the rapid release of lead from a Barbie tent pole under conditions used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to demonstrate the liberation of lead from vinyl miniblinds. Figure 2 (below) shows the increasing availability of cadmium on the surface of a 101 Dalmations backpack during aging. To our knowledge, Figure 2 represents the first demonstration of cadmium release from a vinyl consumer product during degradation.

Abbreviations: g, micrograms. Average exposures representing the mean of triplicates were plotted for both figures. The permitted exposure level for lead and cadmium under California’s Proposition 65 is 0.5 g/day and 0.05 g/day respectively

Large amounts
of lead and
cadmium are
released

Large amounts of lead-contaminated dust were released by vinyl children’s products during four weeks of accelerated aging. Table 7 (below) shows maximum surface lead levels between 5.6 g and 336 g. The lowest level occurred on the Disney Minnie’s Spring Fever backpack. However, this backpack still produced more than 11 times the amount of lead legally permitted in California where it was purchased. The two highest amounts of lead dust were present of the surfaces of the Columbia rain coat and the Barbie Slumber tent pole. Both products released over 300 g of lead dust; more than 600 times the Proposition 65 limit. In fact, all seven products violated the legal limit set by Proposition 65. Four of the products exceeded the limit used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Table 7. Maximum Lead and Cadmium Dust Levels Observed on the Surfaces of Vinyl Products: Exposures Provided by Average Products

Item

Store

Lead

(g)

Cadmium

(g)

backpack; Minnie’s Spring Fever

Disney; LA

5.664

5.792

backpack; 101 Dalmations

Kmart; LA

19.430

14.307

backpack; Barbie

Kmart; SF

35.380

23.393

rain coat; Columbia

Columbia; Por

336.033

nd

rain hat; Tweety

Warner Bros.; LA

9.217

0.263

tent pole; Barbie Slumber

Toys R Us; SF

302.484

ND

totebag; Tweety

Wal-Mart; Chi

8.800

15.520

Abbreviations: g, micrograms; nd, not detected; ND, not determined. LA, Los Angeles, CA; SF, San Francisco, CA; Por, Portland, OR; Chi, Chicago, IL. Average exposures represent the mean of triplicates. The permitted exposure level for lead and cadmium under California’s Proposition 65 is 0.5 g/day and 0.05 g/day respectively. See Table 6 for product areas.

The most
dangerous
10% of items
would provide
significant
exposures

Large amounts of easily ingestable cadmium dust were also released during degradation of vinyl children’s products. Table 7 shows that the amount of cadmium released by all six products that were tested was 5 to 460 times higher than the Proposition 65 limit.

The use or presence of several vinyl products would further increase the amount of lead and cadmium available for ingestion. Table 7 shows that combining a Barbie backpack, Columbia rain coat, and Tweety rain hat, could quickly increase exposure to both toxic metals, especially if they were used multiple times each week or month. The hazard comes from the cumulative nature of lead poisoning.

A statistical calculation revealed the amount of lead or cadmium that the most hazardous subset of product samples could provide. The estimate assumed a normal distribution and used the variation observed among replicates to calculate the 90th percentile level of either metal. The most dangerous 10% of samples could provide at least this amount of lead or cadmium.

Table 8. Minimum Lead and Cadmium Exposures Provided by the Most Hazardous 10 Percent of Items: Statistical Estimate

Item

Store

Lead

(g)

Cadmium

(g)

backpack; Minnie’s Spring Fever

Disney; LA

14.824

6.678

backpack; 101 Dalmations

Kmart; LA

24.284

15.852

backpack; Barbie

Kmart; SF

83.692

35.840

rain coat; Columbia

Columbia; Por

590.554

nd

rain hat; Tweety

Warner Bros.; LA

12.415

0.497

tent pole; Barbie Slumber

Toys R Us; SF

486.925

ND

totebag; Tweety

Wal-Mart; Chi

20.495

16.762

Abbreviations: g, micrograms; nd, not detected; ND, not determined. LA, Los Angeles, CA; SF, San Francisco, CA; Por, Portland, OR; Chi, Chicago, IL. The 90th percentile was calculated by adding (z1.28 x sample standard deviation) to the mean. A normal distribution was assumed for the data set. The permitted exposure level for lead and cadmium under California’s Proposition 65 is 0.5 g/day and 0.05 g/day respectively. See Table 6 for product areas.

Table 8 shows that the most hazardous samples of each product would provide exceptional exposures to both toxic metals. The only product which did not liberate cadmium was the Columbia rain coat. The most dangerous 10% of these rain coats would provide nearly 1,200 times the legal limit for lead set by Proposition 65 and 40 times the limit used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Cadmium was not measured on the Barbie tent pole, but this product could liberate 970 times the amount of lead permitted by Proposition 65.

The remaining 5 products contained both toxic metals on their surfaces. Lead levels ranged from 25 to 170 times higher than the Proposition 65 limit. Cadmium levels exceeded the limit by 10 to 335 fold. The presence of both lead and cadmium on the product surface represents a significantly greater hazard than the considerable danger posed by either toxic metal alone.

MEASUREMENT OF LEAD & CADMIUM
IN ADDITIONAL TOY SAMPLES FROM VARIOUS U.S. CITIES
and
METHODOLOGICAL
DETAILS OF LAB ANALYSIS


RETURN TO PVC HOMEPAGE

BACK TO LEAD AND CADMIUM IN TOYS

This report Greenpeace 1997

1 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Report on lead in vinyl miniblinds. September 19, 1996

2 Tuczai, E., Cortolano, F. Reformulating PVC to eliminate heavy metals and protect performance. Modern Plastics p 123-124. 1992

3 Landrigan, P. J. Commentary: environmental disease-a preventable epidemic. American Journal of Public Health 82:941-943. 1992

4 Needleman, H. L., Bellinger, D. The health effects of low level exposure to lead. Annual Review of Public Health 12:111-140. 1991

5 Committee on Environmental Health, American Academy of Pediatrics. Lead poisoning: from screening to primary prevention. Pediatrics 92:176-183. 1993

6 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Case studies in environmental medicine: lead toxicity. Atlanta Department of Health and Human Services. 1992

7 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Report on lead in vinyl miniblinds. September 19, 1996

8 ibid

9 Health Canada. Strategy for reducing lead in children’s and other consumer products: a draft discussion document. May, 1997

10 Kelley, M., Watson, P., Thorton, D., and Halpin, T. J. Lead intoxication associated with chewing plastic wire coating. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 42:465-467. 1993

11 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Specification limit for lead in plastic miniblinds. Memo from L. E. Saltzman and C. M. Trainor to A. H. Schoem. June 14, 1996

12 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Case studies in environmental medicine: lead toxicity. Atlanta Department of Health and Human Services. 1992

13 Landrigan, P. J. Commentary: environmental disease-a preventable epidemic. American Journal of Public Health 82:941-943. 1992

14 Erratum for Vol. 46 No. 7. Update: blood lead levels—United States, 1991-1994. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 46: 607. 1997

15 Binder, S., Matee, T. D., Kresnow, M., Houston, B., Sacks, J. J.. Lead testing of children and homes: results of a national telephone survey. Public Health Reports 111:342-346. 1996

16 Needleman, H. L., Bellinger, D. The health effects of low level exposure to lead. Annual Review of Public Health 12:111-140. 1991

17 Committee on Environmental Health, American Academy of Pediatrics. Lead poisoning: from screening to primary prevention. Pediatrics 92:176-183. 1993

18 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Case studies in environmental medicine: lead toxicity. Atlanta Department of Health and Human Services. 1992

19 Needleman, H. L., Schell, M. A., Bellinger, D., Leviton, A., Allred, E.. N. The long-term effects of exposure to low doses of lead in childhood. The New England Journal of Medicine 322:83-88. 1990

20 Committee on Environmental Health, American Academy of Pediatrics. Lead poisoning: from screening to primary prevention. Pediatrics 92:176-183. 1993

21 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Case studies inenvironmental medicine: lead toxicity. Atlanta Department of Health and Human Services. 1992

22 National Research Council. Measuring lead exposure in infants, children, and other sensitive populations. Washington DC. National Academy Press. 1993.

23 Schwartz, J. Low-level lead exposure and children’s IQ: a meta-analysis and search for a threshold. Environmental Research 65:42-55. 1994

24 Flegal, R. A., Smith, D. R. Lead levels in preindustrial humans. New England Journal of Medicine 326:1293-1294. 1992

25 Committee on Environmental Health, American Academy of Pediatrics. Lead poisoning: from screening to primary prevention. Pediatrics 92:176-183. 1993

26 Montague, P. How risk assessment poisoned our children. Rachel’s Hazardous Waste News #376. 1994

27 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Case studies inenvironmental medicine: lead toxicity. Atlanta Department of Health and Human Services. 1992

28 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Evaluation of lead (Pb) in miniblinds from Arizona, North Carolina, and Virginia. Memo from B. C. Lee to M. F. Toro. July 24, 1996.

29 Kelley, C., Pichette, J., Schulze, D., Perrotta, D. M., Henry, J. P. Lead chromate exposures and elevated blood lead levels in workers in the plastics pigmenting Industry- Texas 1990. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 41:304-306. 1992

30 Skillern, C. P. Experience with burned lead-in-plastic material. American Industrial Hygiene Association. Journal 30:648-649. 1969

31 Ong, C. H., Ong, H. Y., Khoo, N. Y. Lead exposure in PVC stabilizer production. Applied Industrial Hygiene 4:39-44. 1989

32 Kelley, M., Watson, P., Thorton, D., and Halpin, T. J. Lead intoxication associated with chewing plastic wire coating. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 42:465-467. 1993

33 California Code of Regulations. Final statement of reasons. 22CCR12805.

34 California Code of Regulations. 22CCR12705 subsection b

35 Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Division, Health Hazard Assessment Division, California Department of Health Services. Risk-specific intake levels for the Proposition 65 carcinogen cadmium. 1990

36 ibid

37 Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Section, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency. Draft. Evidence of developmental and reproductive toxicity of cadmium. 1996.

38 ibid

39 ibid

40 Denison, R. A., Ruston, J. Recycling and incineration. Environmental Defense Fund. Island Press. Washington, D. C., Covelo, California 1990

41 ibid

42 EPA. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Characterization of products containing lead and cadmium in municipal solid waste in the United States, 1970 to 2000. EPA/530- SW-89-015B. 1989

43 Denison, R. A., Ruston, J. Recycling and incineration. Environmental Defense Fund. Island Press. Washington, D. C., Covelo, California 1990

44 Webster, T., Connett, P. Dioxin emission inventories: the importance of large sources. Organohalogen Compounds 28:95-100. 1996

45 Committee on Environmental Health, American Academy of Pediatrics. Lead poisoning: from screening to primary prevention. Pediatrics 92:176-183. 1993

46 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Report on lead in vinyl miniblinds. September 19, 1996

47 ibid

48 ibid

49 Code of Federal Regulations 16CFR1303. Ban of lead-containing paint and certain consumer products bearing lead-containing paint. 1978

50 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Report on lead in vinyl miniblinds. September 19, 1996

51 ibid

52 EPA, Environmental Protection Agency. Guidance on identification of lead-based paint hazards. Federal Register 60: 175: 47248-47257. September 11, 1995.

53 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Evaluation of lead (Pb) in miniblinds from Arizona, North Carolina, and Virginia. Memo from B. C. Lee to M. F. Toro. July 24, 1996.

54 ibid

55 ibid

56 ibid

57 ibid

58 ibid

59 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Report on lead in vinyl miniblinds. September 19, 1996

60 Window Covering Safety Council. Memo from P. Rush, executive director, to A. Schoem, Office of Compliance, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. June 11, 1996.

61 ibid

62 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Specification Limit for Lead in Plastic Miniblinds. Memo from L. E. Saltzman and C. M. Trainor to A. H. Schoem. June 14, 1996

63 Window Covering Safety Council. Memo from P. Rush, executive director, to A. Schoem, Office of Compliance, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. June 24, 1996.

64 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Memo from A. Schoem, Office of Compliance to P. Rush, executive director, Window Covering Safety Council. July 16, 1996.

65 ibid

66 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Report on lead in vinyl miniblinds. September 19, 1996.

67 Zamora, J. 12 Firms sued in move aimed at miniblinds. San Francisco Examiner. July 17, 1996.

68 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Specification limit for lead in plastic miniblinds. Memo from L. E. Saltzman and C. M. Trainor to A. H. Schoem. June 14, 1996.

69 Tuczai, E., Cortolano, F. Reformulating PVC to eliminate heavy metals and protect performance. Modern Plastics p123-124. 1992

70 ibid

71 ibid

72 Kannan, K., Senthilkumar, K., Loganathan, B. G., Takahashi, S., Odell, D.K., Tanabe, S. Elevated accumulation of tributyltin and its breakdown products in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) found stranded along the US Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Environmental Science & Technology 31:296 - 301.1997.

73 Fent, K. Ecotoxicology of organotin compounds. Critical Reviews in Toxicology 26:1-117. 1996.

74 Colborn, T., Clement, C. Chemically-induced alterations in sexual and functional development: the wildlife/human connection. Princeton Scientific Publishing Co., Princeton, New Jersey, page 1-2. 1992

75 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Report on lead in vinyl miniblinds. September 19, 1996.

76 ibid

77 American Society for Testing and Materials. ASTM G53-96. Standard Practice for operating light- and water-exposure apparatus (fluorescent UV-condensation type) for exposure of nonmetallic materials. 1996.

78 ibid

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