How Safe Are the Toys in Your Home?

On the heels of the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall of three more toys for possible lead contamination, a Senate committee will conduct a hearing today to determine how to better protect children from the toxin.

The latest toys to be recalled include 55,000 R.L. Albert & Son skull pails filled with Halloween candy mix because of toxic lead paint on the eyes, nose and teeth of the skull; bookmarks for Antioch Publishing; and Guidecraft's Puppet Theaters

Now many parents are wondering about the toys in their children's play chest that never get recalled. They are questioning the safety of nearly everything in the toy box.

"You would think that there would be more quality control with the toys that are definitely going to be going into children's mouths," said Linda Petursdottir, mother of 5-year-old Alex and 3-year-old Ian Sincevich.

"Good Morning America" investigated the family's home and found half-a-dozen toys with high lead levels. Bill Radosevich, of Thermo Fisher Scientific, tested several items in the home.

High lead levels can pose a risk particularly to young children, like the Sincevich kids, because they are more likely to put things in their mouths, such as the cheap yellow duckies found in many homes.

Radosevich said they often contain lead and he detected 1,200 parts per million in the paint of one in the Sincevich home — that's shocking because lead paint over 600 parts per million has been banned in the United States since 1978.

But the duckie wasn't the only thing contaminated with lead. A nutcracker had 40 times the legal lead limit, but only on the green paint of the toy.

And a copper drum Mark Sincevich, the boys' father, bought overseas also had lead, as did a model taxicab. It contained lead on the inside, but not the outside.

But Sincevich said he doesn't feel that makes it safe.

"When I was a kid, I would take something like that apart and handle it with my fingers and probably not wash my hands," he said. "I've got an exposure issue I never even knew about."

The tests also uncovered lead on two vintage vehicles made before lead paint was banned. The toy roadster had 100 times the legal limit of lead the government allows.

"I don't want him to play with this at all," their father said.

And while sometimes vintage toys are better for display than play, it can be difficult for parents to know which toys to worry about.

Because most don't have access to the $35,000 testers used to find lead, parents can get regular tests for their children to see whether they have elevated lead levels.

It also is important to note, toys are not the only source of potential lead poisoning. Some homes built before 1978 still have lead paint.

Parents also should be on the lookout for lead-contaminated drinking water, which can be detected through periodic testing.