Printer Friendly

Artificial Christmas trees: how real are the lead exposure risks?

* Blood lead levels as low as 2.5 micrograms per deciliter ([micro]g/dL) were recently found to be associated with reductions in cognitive performance in children.

* Other studies have connected lead exposure with behavioral and emotional problems, such as aggressive or anxious behavior.

* Lead may also affect the growth of children; decreases in height, head circumference, and chest circumference have been documented.

* Thus, lead-containing products with even moderate potential to cause human exposure may have public health significance.

* Products made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic often contain relatively large amounts of lead added as stabilizers.

* In 1995, it was discovered that imported vinyl mini-blinds contained lead.

* In 1997 it was found that high levels of lead accumulated on the surfaces of several commonly used children's products after exposure to sunlight.

* These products included

-- PVC raincoats,

-- book bags, and

-- beach bags.

* Artificial Christmas trees made of PVC have become very common in the United States.

* An estimated 50 million households use them.

* In nearly 20 million of these households, the trees are nine years old or older.

* This study assessed the potential for lead exposure from these products.

* The first phase of experimentation tested artificial Christmas trees in the laboratory for lead content in branches, lead transfer from hand contact, and lead dust levels under the tree.

* The second phase used a field-testing survey of households with artificial Christmas trees.

* PVC Christmas trees currently being manufactured were not found to represent more than a relatively small lead exposure hazard across the entire population of U.S. children.

* Only one tree of each major brand was tested, however.

* In contrast, two of the four older trees that were tested contained relatively high levels of lead in the PVC needles.

* A significant fraction of older trees are probably exposing children and adults to enough lead to constitute a noteworthy public health issue.

* It is probably appropriate to caution families

-- to wash hands immediately after tree assembly and disassembly and

-- to limit the access of children to areas under trees.

* Direct mouthing contact or frequent branch handling by young children appear to have considerably greater health significance.
COPYRIGHT 2004 National Environmental Health Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Practical Stuff!
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Previous Article:Hazardous-chemical releases in the home.
Next Article:Reducing the risk of chemical exposures in schools hazardous-chemical releases in the home.

Related Articles
Chopping Spree.
An assessment of lead exposure potential from residential cutoff valves. (Practical Stuff!).
Merry whatever. (Insider Report).
Advent is a time to quiet one's soul, to sit with God.
National Christmas Tree Association.
Real or fake?
Artificial Christmas trees: how real are the lead exposure risks?
Chemical Christmas: immigrant tree farm workers face pesticide dangers.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters