From The Smart Mama

Most of you know I test products using a Niton XRF analyzer. I've tested more than 75,000 products by now, and wanted to share the results with those of you concerned about the CPSIA. I've tested toys, household products, new clothing, used clothing, textiles, sheets, ceramics, etc.

If you aren't familiar with the XRF, it is a portable analyzer that can be used to test household products including clothing for lead and other elements. I can even test your diamond ring and determine whether it is actually a diamond (although not the 4 Cs).

So, here is what I've found in terms of items on clothing that have failed (exceeded the August 300 ppm limit that will be effective in 8/14/09) - some of these numbers differ from a previous post I did because I went and reviewed my testing results:

(1) Brass can fail, particularly when it is a buckle or purse joining (and in household keys too) - usually has lead at 15,000 ppm;
(2) Some metal zipper pulls fail, particularly decorative ones found on girl's clothing - those lacy or filigree looking ones - have found as high as 28,000 ppm;
(3) Crystals fail, such as adornment on dresses;
(4) Some rhinestones fail;
(5) Some decals on fronts of shirt fail - the vinyl ones;
(6) I have had red dyed textiles fail;
(7) Those slighly opalescent or pearl look or shell look buttons frequently fail, anywhere from 1,400 ppm and up;
(8) Faux pearl adornments frequently fail;
(9) Some zipper and zipper stops fail;
(10) Some painted on decorations have failed - it seemed like silk screen to me, but I'm not really an expert on that.


To answer some of the questions for me, the lead swabs are accurate probably 60% of the time. In fact, the CPSC issued a statement about them saying that they aren't reliable, although Consumer Reports did its own investigation and found certain ones better and useful as a screening tool if you understood the limitations. One limitation is that they don't detect low concentrations well.

Real mother of pearl doesn't seem to fail - just the fake opalescent or pearl buttons. Had several today fail at 8,000 ppm.

On zippers, doesn't have to be painted. Same with snaps, grommets, etc.

My daughter used to wear a lot of Gymboree. I've had some failures . . . I'll have to dig out the information and figure out. But it was buttons and some rhinestones on lines. She mostly wore 2004 / 2005 lines. I'll go look before everybody freaks out.

And yes, I've had manufacturers tell me okay, test all these onesies, but you only need to test one set of snaps because all from same source. Ask them whether source buys all from same source. usually don't know. Spot check with testing - invariabily, some will fail even though all from same supplier.

Am testing some books. Only books that have failed are those that are vinyl - particularly those books for babies in the bath.

Dermal exposure from lead is usually absorption rate of 1%. Problem with lead is that it wears off from the surfce - such as a zipper that has friction - and then is transferred to hands as lead contaminated dust, which is then ingested. Children absorb into their bodies between 35 and 75% of lead that reaches their stomaches, and 50% of the lead that they inhale. Adults only absorb 11%.

And, there hasn't been a standard for lead in clothing generally. There has been a standard for lead in paints and coatings, and certain states have requirements or regulations such as California's Proposition 65. But prior to CPSIA, there was no ban or limitation on using lead in vinyl for a child's raincoat or faux leather jacket, except in California you would have had to have a Prop 65 warning. I know there has been several posters about this, but it isn't right. If a paint or coating was used on a fabric, yes, but not in fabric or clothing pieces specifically.

Think that was all the questions directed at me.


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