Artificial Christmas trees: how real are the lead exposure risks?
* 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.
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|Title Annotation:||Practical Stuff!|
|Publication:||Journal of Environmental Health|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2004|
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