Children often receive toys and toy jewelry as gifts during the holidays. Some toys, however, especially imported toys, antique toys and toy jewelry, may contain lead. Lead is sometimes used as an additive to paints, or the toys themselves may be made of lead.
The long-term harmful effects of lead (Pb) exposure to children under the age of twelve are well documented. While lead is not visible to the naked eye and has no smell, the good news is there is a fast, straightforward, and nondestructive method to test children’s jewelry and toys for dangerous levels of Pb.
Pb has historically been used in jewelry for a variety of purposes. The potential risk of purchasing new jewelry with high Pb content is greatest with jewelry that contains minimal, if any, precious metals. It’s important to keep in mind that Pb in jewelry does not enter the body by simply wearing it. The way Pb can enter the body is if it is put it in the mouth, which is not an unusual thing for a child to do. If the Pb mixes with saliva or stomach acids, it can leach out into the body.
The use of Pb in consumer products was first banned by the European Union in 2006 with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive. EU’s REACH program set a limit of no more than 0.05% (or 500 PPM) Pb by weight in consumer products, which includes children’s jewelry. The United States issued limits on Pb in children’s jewelry through the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act with the American Society of Testing and Materials. ASTM’s specification set a limit of no more than 0.01% (or 100 PPM) Pb by weight in jewelry for children under 12 years of age. Other regions have their own regulations.
Bruker’s portable XRF (PXRF) analyzers provide nondestructive measurements of elements from magnesium to uranium, with touchscreen operation and easy-to-read, understandable results. PXRF testing of Pb in children’s jewelry is a fast and simple operation with minimal steps. Read the full article here.
Wishing you and yours a safe, healthy and happy holiday season!