Min­istry alerts pub­lic to height­ened lev­els of lead in play­ground paint

Fid­get spin­ners, homemade plas­tic sub­stance also prob­lem­atic

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - R #Z +6%: 4*&(&-

Af­ter de­tect­ing ex­ces­sive lev­els of lead in paints used on chil­dren’s play­ground equip­ment, the Health Min­istry has in­structed lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to use lead-free paints in pub­lic ar­eas, es­pe­cially those used by young­sters.

The paints and coat­ings in pub­lic ar­eas, in­clud­ing chil­dren’s play­grounds, pic­nic ta­bles and benches, were sam­pled at 50 lo­ca­tions Tel Aviv, Hadera and Bnei Brak in a co­op­er­a­tive op­er­a­tion with staff of the Is­rael Stan­dards In­sti­tu­tion (ISI) and Univer­sity of Haifa funded by the Health and En­vi­ron­ment Fund. Al­though lo­ca­tions were tested in only three lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, the min­istry said it does not mean the same dan­gers do not ex­ist else­where.

Pre­lim­i­nary data in­di­cated sig­nif­i­cant de­vi­a­tions of as much as 300% above the per­mit­ted lead con­cen­tra­tion rel­a­tive to the rel­e­vant US reg­u­la­tions for paints used on play items such as swings and lad­ders and fa­cil­i­ties in­tended for the gen­eral pub­lic, such as pic­nic ta­bles and benches.

In gen­eral, lead ex­po­sure can re­sult in a va­ri­ety of health ef­fects in­clud­ing be­hav­ior, learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment prob­lems in chil­dren. Even small amounts of lead can cause se­ri­ous health prob­lems and, at very high lev­els, lead poi­son­ing can be fa­tal.

Chil­dren un­der six years of age are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble to lead poi­son­ing, par­tic­u­larly ba­bies and tod­dlers who may be ex­posed to lead when they put paint par­ti­cles into their mouths and are in con­tact with dust con­tain­ing lead.

Ac­cord­ing to pro­fes­sional lit­er­a­ture, there is no short­term risk of lead poi­son­ing from paint in pub­lic ar­eas, but the min­istry said the ex­po­sure of the gen­eral pub­lic, es­pe­cially chil­dren, to lead should be min­i­mized to re­duce the risk of long-term ef­fects.

The min­istry pointed out that there is no pro­hi­bi­tion re­gard­ing the use of lead in paints in Is­rael, ex­cept in toys and house­hold prod­ucts for chil­dren.

In the US, how­ever, there has been leg­is­la­tion since 1977 re­strict­ing the lead con­tent in house­hold paints and pub­lic spa­ces.

Ac­cord­ing to the ISI, most house paints in Is­rael are en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and do not con­tain high con­cen­tra­tions of lead.

The Health Min­istry has asked the Ed­u­ca­tion and In­te­rior min­istries to buy paint that is lead free or with a low lead con­tent for use in pub­lic ar­eas and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

To re­duce risk, it rec­om­mends that chil­dren wash their hands af­ter play­ing in play­grounds, es­pe­cially be­fore eat­ing.

Sep­a­rately, the en­vi­ron­men­tal medicine and pub­lic health and pe­di­atrics depart­ment at the Ic­ahn School of Medicine at Mount Si­nai Hos­pi­tal in New York re­ported last week that the om­nipresent “fid­get spin­ners” toy, which also is be­ing used by adults for their calm­ing ef­fect, may be dan­ger­ous.

Lab tests con­ducted for the US Pub­lic In­ter­est Re­search Group de­ter­mined that two types of spin­ners sold in a large chain store were found to con­tain as much as 330 times the US fed­eral le­gal limit for lead in chil­dren’s prod­ucts. Most spin­ners are made in China.

“The find­ings on lead lev­els in fid­get spin­ners that ex­ceed fed­eral safety stan­dards for chil­dren’s toys high­lights a fun­da­men­tal prob­lem that ex­ists in the US to­day. Ev­ery­day items are widely avail­able on the mar­ket with­out hav­ing had ad­e­quate pre­mar­ket safety test­ing or la­bel­ing of con­tents.

“Par­ents need to know the prod­ucts they pur­chase are safe whether they are mar­keted for young chil­dren or teens since lead ex­po­sure through­out the life­span has the po­ten­tial for long term health im­pacts,” the hos­pi­tal ex­perts said.

Health Min­istry as­so­ciate di­rec­tor-gen­eral Prof. Ita­mar Grotto told The Jerusalem Post that spin­ners in Is­rael are not checked for heavy met­als.

Im­porters orig­i­nally said the spin­ners were not toys but “ed­u­ca­tional ob­jects” and, there­fore, they did not have to be ex­am­ined. The ISI has since de­cided, how­ever, that spin­ners are toys and is look­ing into their safety as­pects but not into lead lev­els, said Grotto.

“We are con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of test­ing spin­ners [for heavy met­als] and re­lated prod­ucts on the mar­ket,” he con­cluded.

Mean­while, the Health Min­istry and Na­tional Poi­son Con­trol Cen­ter in Haifa has warned the pub­lic against us­ing house­hold de­ter­gents and other chem­i­cals to make sticky, plas­tic-like ma­te­rial that, in turn, is used to make play ob­jects. This do-it-your­self process in­cludes mix­ing var­i­ous ma­te­ri­als such as glue, hair con­di­tioner, shav­ing cream, laun­dry de­ter­gent and laun­dry soft­ener, which con­tain haz­ardous chem­i­cals, in­clud­ing bo­rax.

The swal­low­ing of bo­rax by in­fants and small chil­dren, or re­peated skin ex­po­sure to the sub­stance, can cause se­ri­ous poi­son­ing, the min­istry said, urg­ing that all th­ese chem­i­cals be kept out of chil­dren’s reach and not be stored near food prod­ucts or drink­ing glasses.

(Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Min­istry)

THE IS­RAELI NEXUS com­pact space lab ar­rives at the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion on Tues­day.

(Il­lus­tra­tive photo – Wiki­me­dia Com­mons)

THE HEALTH MIN­ISTRY has in­structed lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to use lead-free paints in pub­lic ar­eas, es­pe­cially those used by young­sters.

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