Health Warning About Imported Products Containing Lead: A List
Imported Products With Lead
Living in New York City, we are constantly warned about the health hazards of lead poisoning. This is largely due to the old buildings and the lead-based paint used for decades.
But no one is immune from the many imported products that also contain lead. We bring these products into our home. Products like health remedies (see the list below of products banned in NYC and the U.S.), cosmetics, pottery, candies and we are all familiar with the endless recalls of jewelry, toys and other products aimed at children.
I cannot tell you how many times I've turned on the news and there is yet another warning about these products being pulled off the shelves here in the City - along with very serious warnings. Despite banning certain items listed here - often small neighborhood stores still sell them - that is, until an inspector shows up and gives out fines. This is often the result of investigative reporting at its best.
Why is Lead a Concern?
Lead is poison. This poisonous metal is known to damage the kidneys, reproductive system, nervous system and the brain. Additionally, lead causes learning and behavioral disabilities in children, as well as a delay in development and growth, and creates problems during pregnancy.
Children are most often poisoned by lead dust from peeling paint. But now many products making their way into the U.S. are known to contain lead and present yet another source of danger.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has created a very specific list of what to avoid.
1 - Remedies/Herbal Medicines - Herbal medicines from Latin America, China, India and the Middle East have been found to have very high levels of lead. Unfortunately, it may be hard to tell which products are safe and which are dangerous. The product may have lead even if it's not listed on the label.
Because of this several remedies have been banned for sale in New York City. You are advised not to use the following:
Emperor's Tea Pill
Lakshmivilash Ras (Nardiya)
Mahayogaraj Guggulu enriched with silver
2 - Cosmetics - Kohl, surma and kajal eye cosmetics from Pakistan, Bangladesh India and certain Middle Eastern countries contain high levels of lead and are banned for sale in the U.S. Children are especially at risk because they may touch the products and then put their hands in their mouth. Lead is also known to be absorbed through the eyes.
Another product is known as Sindoor. This is a red powder that also contains high levels of lead. It should never be used in food and always kept away from children.
3 - Pottery/Dishes - Those lovely decorative pottery pieces including plates, bowls, tea pots, covered jars, etc. also contain high levels of lead. Lead is in the paints and glazes used for the fancy decorations. This pottery comes from different Asian and Latin American countries.
Food should never be cooked, stored or served in pottery from the above-mentioned countries.
4 - Candy - The latest warning is about Mexican candies and I remember this warning on the news. While most of the candy is believed to be safe, there are some that contain lead and those are especially the ones flavored with chili powder. Lead is sometimes found in the candy wrappers - and this may get into the candy. Tamarind candies sold in clay pots also contain lead. It is recommended that you avoid these candy and snack products:
Tamarind Candy (in clay pots)
5 - Children's Toys, Jewelry etc. - Recalls about these products are endless. Lead is found in the metal and plastic parts of jewelry, in paint and toys, on vinyl lunch boxes and many other imported products aimed specifically for children. Many products are from China. Children who put their hands and the toys in their mouth, of course are at greatest risk. Additionally, many of these products create a choking hazard. It's important to know about recalls and you can do so by checking the website for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Often these items are sold at the so-called 99cent stores.
Thousands of these products containing lead have been recalled. Be careful if you shop at thrift stores because sometimes these products have been donated. I've seen notices in thrift shop windows asking people not to bring in recalled items - the stores are not permitted to sell them.
What should you do if you have used these products?
The Health Department recommends that:
- you stop using them
- have a blood lead test
Warning: Children with lead poisoning often do not feel or look sick. The only way to know if your child has lead poisoning is through a lead blood test.
- in New York City, if you do not have a doctor, call 311 for assistance.
Keep in mind too, that if you are planning to do a home demolition or any type of renovation, many of the products previously used to make these products are also toxic - such as lead in paint - and the dust is a hazard. (See link below about the health hazards of home demolitions and renovations)
Also see links below for healthy home/living suggestions:
- Health Hazards of Home Demolitions and Renovations
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