Progress seen toward a lead-free Halloween

Testing by AU professor shows legislation to 'get the lead out' worked

Mansfield News Journal

CLEVELAND — In 2007, more than one in seven Halloween and holiday 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 in Cleveland this morning to announce that none of the Halloween toys, costumes and other products tested this year contained unacceptable levels of lead.

“Unlike the testing undertaken in 2007-2008, I have not found any problems this year with the painted Halloween items,” Weidenhamer said. “I am pleased to see that some measurable improvements in product safety have been made.”

He credited federal legislation passed in 2008, Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, for having a positive impact on product safety.

Brown, who sponsored the legislation, echoed the perspective.

“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 requested that Weidenhamer 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 (ppm), or 99.97 percent lead-free. Items like 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.

This year, following the implementation of consumer product standards and at Brown’s request, Weidenhamer tested 75 Halloween items purchased in Ohio from 11 different 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 other heavy metals.

No lead levels of concern were detected.

Progress seen toward a lead-free Halloween »