Guidelines allowing lead in children's products concern lead activists, led by Dr. Sandra CottinghamPublished on July 02, 2009
by Sandra Cottingham
VANCOUVER B.C. CANADA
The Consumer Product Safety Commission handed down its decision today: bicycle manufacturers have been granted a two-year stay of enforcement against a new lead limit law, effective until July 1, 2011.
The lead law is part of the Consumer Product Safety Information Act, which came into effect last August. The Act was designed to ensure that products used by and for children do not contain lead. Or rather, it puts limits on the amount of lead that can be used in these products.
The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association justified continued use of small bicycle components such as the levers used in brakes, by showing that the amounts of lead children get from other sources such as water and food are higher than their intake as a result of exposure to bicycle component parts.
Author of a new book on lead, Dr. Sandra Cottingham, says this scenario is absurd for two reasons. First she points to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s allowable limits and reduction plan. The allowable limit is 600 parts per million, with a plan to gradually decrease it to 100 parts per million by 2011. “There is definitive and indisputable research that shows that there is no safe level of lead. While lead poisoning is and always has been a serious issue, it is low level toxic exposure that is causing the permanent and widespread cognitive damage that is the biggest threat and doing the most damage.”
But Cottingham has an even bigger concern and she calls the rationale behind the stay – that forcing some children’s products off the market would create safety concerns - a red herring:
“The Commission recognizes that correctly sizing the bicycle to the rider is an important safety consideration and includes this recommendation in its bicycle safety messages. Children who cannot comfortably reach the pedals or who have to use the more complicated braking and gear shift mechanisms found on adult bicycles are at greater risk of injury than children riding properly sized and equipped bicycles.”
"The issue is lead, not bicycle safety," Cottingham reminds us. The Commission acknowledged that there are health concerns associated with lead, but the “lead poisoning and elevated blood lead levels” they refer to don’t speak to the matter meaningfully according to Dr. Cottingham. She explains that lead does the worst of its damage in-utero – while the brain of an unborn child is in its earliest stages of development. Therefore, a mother’s lifelong accumulation of lead – a tiny bit at a time over her life, stored in her bones, is released during pregnancy at the detriment of the fetal brain. Up until a baby is about 2 years of age, until the blood brain barrier is formed, a baby is critically vulnerable to lead damage. The resulting damage is permanent and debilitating, leaving school age children with learning and behavior problems that will carry forward and impact their earning potential as adults. Sterility for men and women is another serious lead exposure outcome of epidemic proportion.
So where did all the lead that has accumulated in a teenager or adult’s bones and tissues come from? From food, drinking water, dust, soil – from one’s surroundings, explains Cottingham who devoted a book to explaining the prevalence of low level lead sources. She refers us to the weights used in car wheels – a major source of lead. Then to the impact on employees handling lead in a manufacturing plant that can be devastating not only to the worker, but to his family, as lead travels home, contaminates the family car, the laundry, and adds to the heavy metal toxicity of the home. She explains how lead deposited on roadways becomes airborne and travels long distances. “It never breaks down or dissolves. It never becomes less toxic.”
The lead components in children’s bikes will not cause lead “poisoning” unless a child somehow gets their hands on a valve stem or spoke nipple and accidentally swallows it. And if Cottingham is right, the bikes’ contribution to the larger problem of low-level lead exposure seems to have been missed completely. Consumers are simply not being given accurate information about the risks that the lead poses,” she insists.
Cottingham’s recommendation – “Don’t wait for government regulation when it comes to issues related to toxic exposure. Your best defense is to become a lead-savvy consumer and take the simple steps needed to lead-proof your home. Cottingham’s book entitled, LEAD BABIES, Breaking the cycle of learning disabilities, declining IQ, ADHD, behavior problems, and autism” provides readers with the information and tools required. It is a practical and easy to follow guide to ensuring you and your family are lead-safe. You can visit www.nomoreleadbabies.com for more information, or pick up a copy at your local library.
The stay applies to bikes manufactured before Feb. 10, 2009.
Breaking the Cycle of Learning Disabilities, Declining IQ, ADHD, Behavior Problems, and Autism
Joanna Cerazy, MEd (Author), Sandra Cottingham, PhD (Author)
This groundbreaking study reveals the continuing danger that lead contamination presents to health—particularly in the earliest stages of life. Disclosure about the lead content in house paint, gasoline, canned food, and tap water revolutionized the manufacturing of those products a generation ago, but lead-based products are still produced and pose a health hazard as lead remains in the environment years after its initial use. The deleterious effects of lead on early cognitive development are well documented, but the data in this reference regarding in utero lead transfer contains critical new information that shows the effects on infants and families. Week-by-week brain development in unborn and newborn children is demonstrated, explaining lead’s damage potential at each stage and how that household sources and surroundings—including soil, plumbing, imported canned goods, and house dust—are outlined and simple precautions that can reduce or minimize exposure are discussed. With an awareness that has allowed a generation of injured children to be born, and empowers the reader to break this destructive cycle.
Joanna Cerazy, MEd, is a special education consultant and has taught both regular and special education classes in primary, elementary, and secondary schools. Sandra Cottingham, PhD, is a special education consultant with 20 years of classroom experience. She is an instructor in the department of counseling psychology and special education at the University of British Columbia and an associate of the Taos Institute. They both live in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Childrens: Parenting & Family Care, Health
256 pages, Cloth, 5.5 x 8.5
$24.95 (CAN $25.95)
Tel: (647) 477-8179
Causes Sandra Cottingham Supports
The Taos Institute, Surrey Association for Community Living