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Home Tests Find Lead In Baby Care Products

Is there really no such thing as bad publicity? Consider the public legal wrangling between prominent health bloggers and Green Sprouts, the manufacturer of an ostensibly safe alternative to the ubiquitous plastic sippy cup. 

Is a sippy cup more than the sum of its parts? In the case of toxicity, the answer might be yes. Tamara Rubin, a self-described environmental activist, set off the firestorm when she announced the results of testing she conducted on the Green Sprouts “Grow with Baby” Glass Sip and Straw Cup. Using an X-ray florescence spectrometer (XRF) instrument, she detected lead at a level of 3000 ppm on the painted interior portions of the cup. The maximum permissible level is 600 ppm. 

Her findings drew the attention of the local San Francisco CBS affiliate. They submitted the product to the Center for Environmental Health for additional testing. The painted glass straw tested positive for over 4000 ppm of lead.

The publication of these results on several natural health blogs did not go unnoticed by the manufacturer. Tamara Rubin and at least one additional natural health blogger were served with cease-and-desist orders. They were accused by them of publishing false and misleading statements about the Green Sprout Sippy Cup products. 

Apart from the legal maneuvering, iPlay — Green Sprouts’ parent company — addressed the safety issues by conducting additional testing with an accredited laboratory and announced that the results of this testing confirmed that their product was in compliance with all safety standards. To allay the concerns of parents, they have announced a voluntary recall of the glass straw in question.

This dispute resonates because lead’s impact on childhood development has been well-known for several generations. Lead house paint was banned in the late 1970s although it is still present in many older homes, particularly in low-income areas. In the U.S., 535,000 kids aged 1 to 5 years have blood lead levels higher than 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the “level of concern” at which health problems may occur. 

Children under 6 are especially at risk, not only because they're more likely to come into contact with lead via household dust and paint — but also because they're still developing and absorb it more easily than adults. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to brain development, as permanent damage can occur.

Lead-based paint is still a significant route of exposure, so make sure young children do not have access to peeling paint or painted surfaces that can be chewed, particularly if the home was built prior to 1978. Children and pregnant women should not be involved in any renovations on older homes, as the disturbed paint is likely to contain elevated lead levels in household dust. Chlorella is a single-celled fresh water algae that is a naturally potent detox agent that may be useful for removing lead and other heavy metals from your body.
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