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No need to worry about lead poisoning - Cases of lead poisoning in Canada are rare

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Published: 16 Aug 2007

The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC wishes to reassure parents in light of massive toy recall

The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC wishes to reassure parents in light of massive toy recall

A number of concerned parents have called the Emergency Department of the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre worried their child may be at risk of lead poisoning due to the lead content in paint used on many recalled Mattel Inc. toys. The giant toy manufacturer has recalled hundreds of models of toys after discovering high lead contents in the paint.

“There is no need to panic,” reassures Dr. Dominic Chalut, an Emergency Room Physician and toxicologist with the Montreal Children’s Hospital. “Lead poisoning occurs only after prolonged exposure to the substance. There is no need to worry about lead poisoning in children who occasionally play with toys with lead paint. Their exposure to lead will be minimal.”

Dr. Chalut also points out that “cases of lead poisoning in Canada are very rare. However, we strongly recommend that the recalled toys should be taken away from children immediately.” For a complete list of the recalled toys please go to Mattel’s website (www.mattel.com).

Mattel Inc. announced a second recall of its Chinese-made products. Nearly one million toys have been recalled in Canada. They include about 890,000 magnetic toys such as Polly Pocket dolls and Batman action figures, and 32,800 Sarge die-cast cars that contain lead paint.

What are the health effects of lead poisoning?

  • Exposure to lead can produce a wide range of adverse health effects. Both adults and children can suffer from the effects of lead poisoning.
  • Young children under the age of six are more vulnerable to lead's harmful health effects, because their brains and central nervous system are still being formed. A persistent exposure can result in reduced IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioural problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing and kidney damage. The number of children with lead poisoning in Canada is very limited compared to the US. A few decades ago, a law was passed banning the use of lead in products and goods manufactured for the general public.
  • In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and cause fertility problems, nerve disorders, muscle and joint pain, irritability and memory or concentration problems. It takes a significantly greater level of exposure to lead for adults than it does for children to sustain adverse health effects. Most adults who are poisoned by lead get exposed to it at work. Occupations related to house painting, welding, renovation and remodeling activities, smelters, firing ranges, the manufacture and disposal of car batteries and the maintenance and repair of bridges and water towers are particularly at risk for lead exposure. Workers in these occupations must also take care not to leave their work site with potentially contaminated clothing, tools and facial hair, or with unwashed hands. Otherwise, they can spread the lead to their family vehicles and ultimately to other family members.

What is the best way to prevent lead poisoning?

  • The most efficient and safest way to prevent lead poisoning is to discontinue the ongoing exposure to lead. Once the source has been identified, every effort has to be made to remove it from the environment. In the current situation involving Mattel toys, the potential source has been identified, hence the importance of the toy recall.
  • With information from the National Safety Council.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital is the pediatric teaching hospital of the McGill University Health Centre. This institution is a leader in the care and treatment of sick infants, children and adolescents from across Quebec. The Montreal Children’s Hospital provides a high level and broad scope of health care services, and provides ultra specialized care in many fields including: cardiology and cardiac surgery; neurology and neurosurgery, traumatology; genetic research; psychiatry and child development and musculoskeletal conditions, including orthopedics and rheumatology. Fully bilingual and multicultural, the institution respectfully serves an increasingly diverse community in more than 50 languages.

Contact Information

Contact: Lisa Dutton
Organization: The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC
Office Phone: 514-412-4307
Source Site: /channels
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