Lead dangers in children's books

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - A nationwide debate is underway about children's books printed before 1986. That's because they could contain unsafe levels of lead. 

Armed with a lead testing kit and a camera, NBC 12 went into three local book stores and thrift shops. We tested books dating back to the early 1900s. Not a single one tested positive for lead. Results that were no surprise to Librarian Linda Gosnell.

We sat in on a storytelling session at the Hanover branch of the Pamunkey Regional Library. Gosnell's job is to make sure all books storyteller Amy Flagg reads, and that these kids have access to, are safe. It's harder than you think because kids have a tendency to put things in their mouths, so she has to be careful about lead dangers in certain books printed before 1986.

"The concern for lead in children's books does refer to the lead in the printers ink, which was outlawed by regulations in 1986," said Gosnell.

It would unusual to even find a children's book made before 1986 in a public library because kids are hard on books and they have to be replaced often. Take this example of this classic Dr. Suess book, which was written in 1940, but this copy is only about five years old.

"We do not have any picture books in our collection that were acquired before 1986," said Gosnell.

Gosnell says in general, parents shouldn't worry about ordinary picture books and certainly not about books printed after 1986. It's specific items you'd likely pick up at a thrift shop or yard sale that could be cause for caution.

"You may find books with movable wheels and other parts, metal parts that could possibly contain some traces of lead," Gosnell said.

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