Potential new health risk from lead in used consumer products purchased in the United States

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  • The lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, both enacted in 2008, were intended to protect children from exposure to lead by setting federal limits on lead content. Neither of these federal actions, however, addresses a newly recognized pathway of exposure to lead from the use of used consumer products in the home. In the study described in this article, the authors purchased 28 used consumer items in the United States in 2004 and analyzed them for lead content using X-ray fluorescence technology. Nineteen of the items exceeded the federal standards for lead. The amount of lead in the items ranged from 745 parts per million (ppm) to 428,525 ppm. The authors' research shows that such items, which are easily purchased throughout the U.S., may contain surface lead concentrations in amounts greater than 700 times current federal limits. This article reveals an ongoing public health threat involved in exposure to lead that is not addressed by current laws or regulations. Addressing the risk involved in this threat requires continued research, public education, and targeted regulatory action.
  • Reprinted with permission from the Journal of Environmental Health, December 2010, (Volume 73, Number 5, pp 8-12), a publication of the National Environmental Health Association,
  • KEYWORDS: Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Lead, United States, Collectibles, Exposure to lead, LRRP, CPSIA, Consumer products, Antiques, Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule
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  • 73
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  • The research was funded by a grant through the State University of New York at Potsdam. The authors do not have an affiliation with any organization that is opposed to or in support of the regulatory and educational work recommended in the discussion.



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