Georgetown Health Care Center
When the results of a routine blood test in a one-year old boy in Arizona were reviewed, more than twice the safe amount of lead was present in his blood. Investigators set to work to try to find the source of the lead - testing every known possible source in his house. The vinyl miniblinds hanging over the boy's bed finally were identified as the culprit.
Following the publicity surrounding the case, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission began to test several brands of blinds for the presence of lead. Blinds made in the United States were safe, but some of those imported from other countries contained enough lead to cause health problems. Lead was found, in paticular, in those with matte finishes. In June 1996, the Commission suggested that parents with small children discard any vinyl miniblinds.
The miniblinds were found to slowly deteriorate when exposed to ultraviolet rays and heat. Following exposure, a chalky, lead-laced dust surfaced on the blinds. While inhaling the dust has not been found to be harmful, small children tend to chew on objects or touch them and then put their fingers in their mouth. In addition, children are more likely to get lead poisoning than are adults since growing bodies absorb more lead. Lead can interfere with brain and nervous system development.
If you know of young children who have been exposed to vinyl miniblinds, get these children tested for lead exposure. Any child who has a blood level of lead of 10 micrograms or more per deciliter of blood should be retested after six months.
New blinds produced bear labels stating, "No lead added." Older blinds should be removed from any windows where children have access to them. Homes, day care centers, or other environments where children are frequent visitors should heed this advice.
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