Just how ubiquitous are heavy metals like cadmium and lead in your home? According to Consumer Reports magazine - they are absolutely everywhere.
In its October 2010 issue, which hits newsstands today, the magazine features a report on 30 products that have been tested for cadmium and lead levels. The products were given an initial screening method called X-ray fluorescence and also sent for outside laboratory analyses to verify results.
According to the report, the lead levels in a green clover-shaped cell phone charm sold at the retailer Claire's "caused the greatest concern." The charms tested by the magazine contained 100,000 parts per million of total lead -- a quantity that would be illegal if it were considered a product marketed to children. But even though it's not specifically made for children, we all know that it would certainly appeal to a kid if they found it on a parent or sibling's cell phone.
Another product that caused concern was a metal barrette from Revlon Couture. The barrette tested positive for high levels of total cadmium. Again, whether the barrette is used on a child or an adult, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine a child finding the barrette on the counter and sticking it right in her mouth.
The article also noted that even when companies change their products to comply with lead limits, older versions that are still on store shelves can be a danger to consumers. This is what they think happened with a Kidorable bumblebee raincoat marketed to toddlers and preschoolers.
The company told Consumer Reports that it reformulated the coat in 2008 to comply with a new consumer product safety law. It began labeling its raincoats and backpacks as lead-free in January 2009. And versions of the coat purchased by the magazine's testers in January and May 2010 contained trace levels of lead well below federal limits. Still, the magazine's testers were also able to purchase older versions of the coat in December 2009 and found lead levels that were higher than the legal limit.
Bottom line: Don't let kids put anything that's not food in their mouths.