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Get the Lead Out of Paints for Children's Products Video Transcript

Get the Lead Out of Paints for Children's Products Video Transcript (back to video)

Visual: Infants playing with and chewing on various multicolored toys.

Narrator: Children are curious and use all of their senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and ... taste to feed their appetite for new information. Unfortunately, sampling all that life has to offer can expose them to more than just data. It can expose them to lead.

Visual: Gloved hand holding a bottle marked "POISON'.

Lead is a heavy metal element that is toxic to many systems of the body, particularly the nervous system, so you don't want to ingest it.

Visual: NIST research chemist John Sieber

Current regulations allow a maximum of 90 parts per million of lead in the paint for children's products. That is for children of age 12 or younger. 90 parts per million is 90 milligrams of lead per kilogram of paint. The previous regulations allowed a maximum of 600 parts per million of lead in paint.

Visual: John Sieber and John Molloy working in their lab. A small vial of lead oxide, a yellow powder, next to a gallon of paint, meant to roughly illustrate the amount of lead allowed in paints for children's toys under the new regulations.

John Sieber and John Molloy, chemists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, developed a new standard reference material to help assure the quality of tests for measuring lead in paints.

Visual: John Sieber and John Molloy in their lab examining a toy that they are preparing to test for lead. Sieber holding the plastic box containing the SRM, green polyester rectangles.

Well, When the regulations were passed lowering the allowable limit of lead to 90 parts per million, there weren't really materials that were available for validating methods of measuring lead at that level. The only materials that were available that were similar were for house paint and that contained lead at orders of magnitude higher than the allowable limits. 

Visual: NIST research chemist John Molloy. Molloy working in his lab.

A variety of different people will be using this standard reference material. Some of them will be at the point of manufacture for the toys, for example, next to an assembly line. Others will be at third party laboratories who are under contract to the manufacturers or to the importer for testing a selection of the toys for compliance. When the toys are imported from other nations, they will come through a port of entry and customs and border protection people will be doing testing there.

visual: Scientists using handheld and tabletop x-ray machines to detect the lead concentrations in various products.

The new material joins a suite of others used for getting accurate measurements of lead in consumer products, buildings, and the environment. We can't remove all lead from our surroundings, but by keeping levels as low as possible, we can help ensure that this little guy can explore his world a bit more safely.

Visual: An infant chewing on a brightly colored plastic toy.

Created October 17, 2012, Updated January 3, 2017