March 1, 2007

Lead-Loaded Childrens' Vinyl Lunchboxes

It's not what's in your child's lunch that's could be a health hazard this time. It's what your child's lunch is in.

California-based Center for Environmental Health (CEH) recently released to The Associated Press over 1,500 documented reports, interoffice memos and emails and other data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) which reveals the skewed criteria and fudged numbers charting the lead levels in children's vinyl lunchboxes.

After filing over a year ago through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the CEH disclosed the manipulated results of these studies which showed that more than 20% of the lunchboxes tested had over 600PPM of lead. California's federal safe lead level. Other levels detected were as high as 9,600PPM, more than 16 times the federal standard.

The AP story quotes a CPSC spokeswoman:
"When it comes to a lunchbox, it's carried. The food that you put in the lunch box may have an outer wrapping, a baggie, so there isn't direct exposure. The direct exposure would be if kids were putting their lunchboxes in their mouth, which isn't a common way for children to interact with their lunchbox." Indicating the test swipes of the boxes were only performed on the outside of the boxes. Dismissing any parent's or teacher's observations of children rummaging around with their little hands inside lunchboxes for that juicy red apple, pear or any other raw, uncovered food item that junior promptly puts in his mouth. Apple or pear... hands and all.

A typical test is done with a "swipe". Initial swipes revealed the highest lead levels. But numerous swipes - in the same spot - lessened the lead numbers. Because the CPSC did not do a cumulative account and rather an average, their average lower lead level conclusions (which allowed for those numerous same-spot swipes) recorded lead levels as within standards.

The fuzzy logic of the director of chemistry for CPSC: "The more you wipe, the less lead you actually find. With fewer wipes we got a higher detection of lead presence. We thought more wipes was closer to reflecting how you would interact with your lunchbox. It was more realistic."

Yet another example of bureaucratic agencies working under the guise of protecting the public and really protecting the vinyl industry and manufacturers of these products. All of which were outsourced to Chinese manufacturers for American distribution. The CEH has a complete data sheet detailing the most circumspect lunchboxes as well as reprints of interoffice memoranda.