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Some lunch containers pose lead threat

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department advises parents to be aware of possible lead contamination from children’s soft vinyl lunch containers.

The Center for Environmental Health, based in Oakland, Calif., recently announced it had found very high levels of lead in the liners of several of the soft vinyl lunch containers, including some sold with popular children’s characters on them.

Those who own and use soft vinyl lunch containers are advised to test them for lead using hand-held testers, which are available at many local hardware stores. While these testers do not indicate the amount of lead present, they can indicate if any lead is present. If the test shows that lead is present in the lunchbox liner or on the lunchbox surface, the lunchbox should not be used for food and should be kept away from small children. Reusable cloth bags and paper lunch bags are safe alternatives for these lunch containers.

While the levels of lead found so far are not enough to cause acute lead poisoning, because lead accumulates in the body, even exposure to small amounts of lead can contribute to the overall level of lead in the body and to the risk of adverse health effects. These health effects are well documented and may have long-lasting or permanent effects, including neurological damage, delayed mental or physical development, attention or learning deficiencies, and hearing problems.

“If you are concerned about your children’s lead level, call your doctor or your local health department and set up an appointment to get them tested for lead,” said Amy Roberts, nurse case manager for the Health Department’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

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