ASHLAND -- In 2007, one in seven Halloween products purchased in Ohio -- and tested by Ashland University Professor Jeff Weidenhamer -- contained dangerous levels of lead contamination.
Weidenhamer joined U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, at a news conference Monday in Cleveland to announce none of the Halloween toys, costumes and other products tested this year contained unacceptable levels of lead paint.
"I think it's a pretty good indication that product safety has significantly improved," Weidenhamer said. "That's good news for parents and for kids."
He credited federal legislation passed in 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
Brown, who co-sponsored the legislation, agreed.
"Thanks to a new law, and tough safety standards for children's toys, parents can be confident that toys and costumes are indeed safer for our children," he said.
In 2007, Brown asked Weidenhamer to test Halloween and holiday items purchased in Ohio for levels of lead. More than 14 percent contained high lead levels.
According to guidelines set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission at the time, acceptable levels of lead were 600 parts per million, or 99.97 percent lead-free. Items such as a witch candy bucket tested at 88,900 ppm; a treat basket with pumpkin ornament tested at 87,800 ppm, and fake "ugly" teeth tested at 65,200 ppm. All were recalled.
In recent years, tainted imports from China and other countries have led to the recall of hundreds of thousands of toys, tires, food products and pet food products.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act reduced the acceptable level of lead in products and improved monitoring.
This year, after implementation of consumer product standards and at Brown's request, Weidenhamer tested 75 Halloween items purchased in Ohio from 11 retailers. All but four were made in China. The items included candy buckets, drinking cups, costume components and toys. Items were screened using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which can detect contamination with lead or other heavy metals.