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article imageCanada gets tough on lead in children's toys

By Stephanie Dearing     Nov 29, 2010 in Health
Point Claire - Health Canada announced Monday morning the country is introducing new regulations that will restrict lead content in children's toys.
The news was welcomed by the group, Safe Kids Canada. The Executive Director, Pamela Fuselli was on hand for the announcement, which was also made via a press release. Fuselli praised the new regulations, saying "Safe Kids Canada is very pleased by this move by the Government of Canada to reduce the amount of lead found in many consumer products, especially in children's toys and furniture. Younger children are curious by nature and explore their environment by touching and putting everything they find in their mouth. This makes products with lead especially dangerous to young children."
Canada is implementing changes to protect children through two avenues. The first is by changing regulatory limits for toys and educational products for children three and under. The regulations would also affect other items such as baby bottle nipples, soothers, sports mouthpieces, drinking straws and mouthpieces of musical instruments. The second prong of attack was to make changes to the Surface Coating Materials Regulations, which includes products such as paints and finishings used on furniture.
The changes, which will not come into effect until some time in 2011, will see the amount of lead allowed lowered to 90 mg/kg. In 2007, after a number of toy recalls, the federal government introduced the Lead Risk Reduction Strategy for Consumer Products, which sought to reduce the amount of lead in children's toys to 600 mg/kg. However, the suggested lower levels of lead used in products was not legally binding.
Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq announced the new regulations saying, "As a Mom, I'm proud that our new, tough regulations will make Canada a world leader in strict lead reduction in consumer products, especially toys."
Exposure to lead, particularly when the exposure continues over a period of time, can result in lead poisoning and even death, although such instances are rare in Canada. Kid's Health said long-term exposure "... can cause serious health problems, particularly in young kids. Lead is toxic to everyone, but unborn babies and young children are at greatest risk for health problems from lead poisoning — their smaller, growing bodies make them more susceptible to absorbing and retaining lead.
Each year in the United States 310,000 1- to 5-year-old kids are found to have unsafe levels of lead in their blood, which can lead to a wide range of symptoms, from headaches and stomach pain to behavioral problems and anemia (not enough healthy red blood cells). Lead can also affect a child's developing brain."
The President of the Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres, Martin Laliberté praised Canada's new regulations. "Canadians are exposed to lead in their environment and even small amounts of this toxic metal can be harmful in the pediatric population. Exposure to lead has several detrimental effects on the brain of young children. The Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres is proud to support the new regulations under the Hazardous Products Act. We believe these important actions will contribute to the reduction of lead exposure for Canadian children."
Canada's move to limit the amount of lead exposure children are exposed to might well hearten health and environmental activists in the United States. Three groups have just launched a law suit against the Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to ban lead used in ammunition for guns and in fishing tackle, reported Hollister Free Lance.
Earlier this summer, Voice of America reported on a devastating spate of deaths caused by lead poisoning in Nigeria. Suspected illegal gold mining was thought to be behind the deaths, which were thought to be at least 200 to 600 by mid-June. 200 were said to have died after being exposed to lead dust. The United Nations has called an inquiry into the large-scale deaths, reported the Daily Trust.
In 2004, two Quebec-based doctors reported on the case of a four year old boy who became poisoned from eating lead paint he'd scraped off the walls of the house. The paint the boy had ingested over an eight-month period, said the doctors, was well within the regulatory limits when it came to lead content. The case was reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal with the title, Lead poisoning from "lead-free" paint.
More about Health canada, Lead, Childrens toys, Toxic paint
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