Hazardous holiday

first_imgIf you have children, consider getting new products anddisposing of the old ones.Check the labels of PVC Christmas products before you buythem. Companies are now required to disclose if any products maycontain lead. To date, there are no recalls or exchange programsfor these products.Wash your hands after touching the item.PVC products may degrade in sun and heat. Clean the entirearea carefully to eliminate any lead particulate matter. Lead exposure risk”Children are more susceptible to the negative effects of leadexposure, which can range from learning disabilities to seizuresand death,” Atiles said.”Exposure can come from airborne lead dust, emitted from thetree, which may be breathed into children’s lungs,” he said.”Lead dust also may settle on the ground and on gifts stackedunder the tree.”Children ingest the lead when they touch the ground and the giftsand then put their contaminated hands into their mouths.Until safe levels of lead exposure are determined, it’s importantto keep children from coming in contact with the tree and leaddust emitted from it, Atiles said.For more information on lead contamination, visit the World WideWeb at yosemite.epa.gov/ochp/ochpweb.nsf/.(Faith Peppers is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.) By Faith PeppersUniversity of GeorgiaPreliminary research has found that artificial Christmas treesmade with PVC may contain lead.In a study of new and used artificial trees, the EnvironmentalQuality Institute at the University of North Carolina-Ashevillefound that some trees contained lead.”Researchers studied the trees for a month, using weekly wipesamples taken from below the tree,” said Jorge Atiles, aUniversity of Georgia Extension Service housing specialist.”The study found that two of the used trees with lead in the PVCbranch material emitted high levels of lead,” Atiles said. “Whilethe use of lead as a PVC stabilizer is becoming more infrequent,some common Christmas products such as artificial trees made inChina may contain lead used as a PVC stabilizer.”What can you do?If you’re concerned about your PVC tree, garland or wreath, youcan have items tested for lead emission with a kit from theEnvironmental Quality Institute.The kit costs $15. Mail orders with checks to FE/EQI CPO #2331,UNC-Asheville, Asheville, NC 28804. You’ll get a test kit withinstructions, disposable lab gloves, a lab wipe and vial, aresearch questionnaire and a return mailer, Atiles said.In the meantime, if you suspect your tree or other PVC productmay contain lead, minimize your family’s exposure to them. Atilesoffers these tips:last_img

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