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  QUESTION: Restrictions of lead content in Jewellery and harmful ingestion by children, 22 Dec 2005, USA

My wife makes beaded jewelry for my kids. The beads are leaded crystal and leaded glass. Is it bad for my kids to wear them all day long?


ANSWER: 21 Dec 2005

Dear Rob,

The most hazardous period of lead exposure for children is during the ages of 0 and six years . Your children would be most at risk at this tender growing age if they are to chew on the pieces, and put them in their mouth. As a matter of fact, unfortunately lead has a sweet flavour to it, which would make it more attractive for children to suck on the jewelry or put it in their mouths. If young children swallow these beads, then they are definitely at a very great risk of lead poisoning. There was actually a case in Canada reported by Health Canada when in 1998 a five-year-old developed elevated blood lead levels after sucking on a pendant made of pure lead covered with a decorative coating.

Canadian restrictions on lead content in children's jewellery (persons under 15 years) currently stand at a maximum of 600 mg/kg total lead, and 90 mg/kg migratable lead (lead that can move out of an object into surrounding solvent such as saliva). These figures are documented in "Health Canada announces regulations for lead content in children's jewelry, " I would advise that your wife asks her distributor whether the stock adheres to safety and quality control processes during developmental design and production.

If your children are older than 15 years, and are less likely to suck on the jewellery, then wearing the pieces should be safe.

Giuseppina Tesoriero,
Volunteer Information Officer

Update 2012: CPSC - Section 101. Children’s Products Containing Lead; Lead Paint Rule

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