Poison Expert: 'Children Have to be Systematically Tested for Lead'

After toy recall, doctors recommend children be routinely tested for lead.

ByABC News
August 15, 2007, 4:21 PM

Aug. 15, 2007 — -- Amid all the corporate apologies and federal calls for action in the toy recalls of the last few weeks, the message to parents left two crucial questions unanswered: Just how dangerous is lead paint in toys, and what exactly should parents be doing about it?

"I would strongly recommend that parents take this recall very seriously. Why? Because there is no safe level of lead in young children," said Dr. John Rosen, a lead poisoning specialist at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City.

Federal officials have promised a crackdown."There is absolutely no excuse for lead to be found on toys entering this country it is totally unacceptable," said Nancy Nord, the acting chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety organization.

Some parents seem uncertain about what to do.

"I decided that if he wasn't eating the paint or sucking on them, which he wasn't, that it wasn't a worry," said one mother, Amy Smith. "Other friends were going ballistic, taking them back "

Sarah Gomiller, who is eight months pregnant, and also has a toddler, owned a number of the Sesame Street toys made by Fisher Price a division of Mattel.

"It certainly made sense to have our son tested, since he had been playing with the toys, mouthing them, and there were paint chips missing off of the toys," said Gomiller. "We had Sesame Street figurines, and it was a package of about six, and so, naturally, Sesame Street is a favorite of a toddler, and he is going to put it in his mouth."

Two weeks ago, Mattel voluntarily recalled those toys due to concerns about lead paint. Furious after reading about the hidden dangers of lead poisoning, Gomiller took her son to be tested, something leading pediatricians say is exactly what people like Gomiller should be doing.