Lead in Toys

Problem: High levels of lead found in toys and other products for children pose hidden lead poisoning threats. Most parents would never suspect that a child’s Curious George doll, Dora the Explorer Game bat and ball set, or a Barbie bicycle accessory set could contain high levels of lead. But those are just some of the toxic toys that CEH discovered over the past few years. Exposure to toys and other children’s items can add up, leading to elevated lead levels and the associated health problems for children.

CEH Action: Since 2007, CEH has tested thousands of toys for lead and has exposed numerous hazardous products. We also worked to expose the Bush Administration for failing to protect children’s health while favoring industry when problem products were revealed. Our testing showing high levels of lead in a Curious George doll spurred a nationwide recall of the product, and helped prompt state and federal investigations of problems with lead in toys.

Solution: Thanks to pressure from CEH and many other health and consumer safety nonprofits, in 2008 Congress passed the first-ever national law setting strict standards for lead in toys and other products for children. CEH has been monitoring children’s products for compliance with California and federal laws, and while some problems remain, toy safety appears to have improved greatly. We also provide information to the online database www.HealthyStuff.org, which provides parents with information and resources for avoiding toxic threats in toys and other consumer products.

See the 2009 CEH Report, Some Progress, But Not Enough: Getting Lead out of Children’s Products.

What You Can Do: Avoid toys that include any vinyl (PVC) materials, and use the www.HealthyStuff.org database to look for safer toys and children’s products.


Warning Issued on Excessive Lead in Toys, LA Times, November 17, 2009

“Playing With Lead”KQED Radio (Bay Area NPR), August 7, 2009

“Checking Santa’s Toys For Lead“, National Public Radio, December 25, 2008

Guerilla Toy Testers Take Aim at Lead, Wall St. Journal, September 16, 2008

Citizen Vigilance Leads to Toy Recalls, New York Times, November 22, 2007

Playing With Poison, Good Housekeeping, September 2007