Lead in Lunchboxes

Problem: Vinyl lunchboxes for children may contain high levels of lead, which can wipe off onto food and onto children’s hands. Lead is sometimes used in vinyl as a stabilizer, but in a child’s lunchbox the lead can pose a health hazard.

CEH Action: CEH began testing children’s lunchboxes for lead in 2004, and in 2005 we brought legal action against leading makers of lunchboxes that were found to have high levels of lead. One child’s lunchbox tested by CEH was found with more than 56,000 parts per million of lead. In addition, CEH urged federal regulators to take action, and the FDA warned lunchbox makers to eliminate lead threats from vinyl used in lunchboxes.

Solution: Two of the nation’s leading vinyl lunchbox suppliers makers agreed to reformulate their products to eliminate the lead threat in 2006, and ultimately CEH reached legal agreements to end lead threats from lunchboxes with more than twenty suppliers.

What You Can Do: Vinyl lunchboxes should be avoided; look for lunchboxes made with safer materials.


Firm Fined for Tainted Lunchboxes, LA Times, May 22, 2008

How Government Decided Lunch Box Lead Levels, Associated Press, February 18, 2007

An Unsavory Addition to Kids’ Lunchboxes: Lead, LA Times, September 12, 2005