Holiday Shopping, the Smart Way

CEH has worked hard for 15 years, wiping lead-tainted toys off store shelves and cleaning up the consumer products industry, eliminating lead, cadmium, and other toxics from the products that we buy every day.

One of our largest, most far-reaching accomplishments so far has been eliminating lead from children’s toys across the country.

Though we’ve made sure most toys on the market are safe, it’s still a good idea to avoid certain kinds of materials to ensure that the toys you buy for your family are lead-safe.

The Get the Lead Out Coalition (which CEH is a part of), has some simple, yet useful tips for finding lead-safe toys this holiday season.  You can also download a pdf of the Lead-Safe Toys Holiday Guide here.

1.  To Avoid Lead Hazards, Consider Creative Toy Alternatives.

See Get the Lead Out Coalition’s list of safer toy ideas.

2.  In Addition To Paint, Lead May Be Found In Products Containing Vinyl, Plastic, Or Metal. 

Some examples include vinyl lunch boxes, metal charms, hard plastic toys, children’s jewelry, and electronic products.

3.  Be Careful Of Electronic Toys.

Exercise reasonable caution with electronic toys (any interactive toy, game or book) that uses a battery, computer chip, or lights up (this includes shoes).  Younger children should not be allowed to play with or put these toys in their mouths.

4. A Blood Test Is The Only Way To Know If Your Child Has Been Exposed To Lead

Ask your doctor for a simple blood lead test or call your local health department for assistance.

5. Check The Recall List For Any Toys You Are Considering Buying ( Recalled toys should be returned to the manufacturer or store where purchased.

6. Other Sources Of Lead

Lead comes in many other forms—in the paint of older homes, glazes for pottery and some home remedies, for example.  The most common source of lead for young children is the lead found in household dust when old paint is in poor condition or disturbed during home renovation projects.  This dust gets on hands and toys that find their way into a young child’s mouth.

7. Wash Toys Regularly To Clean Off Household Dust

Toys may pick up lead dust in older homes from deteriorating paint and soil.

8. Use Age-Appropriate Toys

Check the recommended age on the packaging.

9. For More Information About Lead Poisoning Prevention

Log on to or contact your local lead poisoning prevention program.

10. For Information About Other Items That May Contain Lead

Check out CEH’s lead overview and current work on lead.