Press Releases

Vinyl Diaper Bags Contaminated with High Levels of Lead

Oakland, CA – Infant changing pads and other parts of diaper bags sold at national retailers are contaminated with levels of lead in violation of California law, according to testing announced today by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH). The level of lead found in one product was more than eight times higher than the federal standard for lead in paint (600 parts per million).

“When you lay your naked baby on a changing pad, you shouldn’t have to worry that the baby is resting on a lead-tainted blanket,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “Parents need to know that vinyl is a poison plastic, and they should avoid vinyl products for their children.”

CEH tested approximately 60 diaper bags purchased in February, and found six with high lead levels. Three diaper bags with high lead levels in the changing pad were from Kmart, including a Disney Baby “Winnie the Pooh” bag, a Baby Got Bag leopard print bag, and a “Baby Necessities” brand bag. A fourth with lead in the changing pad was a “George” store-brand bag from WalMart. A “Red” brand bag from Mimi Maternity and a Carter’s “Out ‘N About” bag from Babies R Us had high lead levels in other parts of the bag.

On Monday, CEH initiated legal action against the makers of the bags under California’s Proposition 65 consumer protection law. The nonprofit also alerted the Attorneys General of Illinois and Michigan, and asked them to investigate the sale of several lead-tainted vinyl children’s products that CEH found this year, including baby bottle coolers and Hannah Montana toys, as well as diaper bags, since the two states have strict laws limiting lead levels in products for children.

Several states and the federal government are now considering legislation to eliminate lead threats from children’s products. For example, bills under consideration in California and Washington would limit lead in products for children under twelve to no more than 40 parts per million, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. By contrast, the changing pad with the highest lead level among those tested by CEH is nearly 130 times that amount.

Vinyl is often made with lead, a neurotoxin that can cause learning disorders, brain and nerve damage, hearing problems, stunted growth, and digestive problems. Scientists are increasingly concerned that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for young children.

CEH’s legal work under Prop 65 has uncovered lead threats to children from toys, vinyl baby bibs, children’s jewelry and other products. CEH has a ten-year track record of protecting children from hidden health hazards in consumer products and protecting communities from health hazards related to toxic pollution. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.

Click here for testimony on lead in children’s products from the American Academy of Pediatrics, including the Academy’s recommendations.

Click here for photos of the diaper bags and more about CEH’s findings.