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  QUESTION: Lead in 30 yr old painted wooden toy blocks, 06 May 2003, New South Wales Australia

My mother in law has some old painted wooden toy blocks, approx 30 years old, My concern is that they may be painted with lead paint, what do you think is the likelihood of this? and do you think it is worth doing the lead test?

Kind Regards
Lori Barrett.

ANSWER: 29 Jul 2003

Dear Lori,

There is certainly a chance that the paint has lead in it but unfortunately the different colours will have different lead concentrations with yellow (and therefore green), orange and red being more likely to be leaded. It costs nothing to assume there is lead in the paint. Whether lead in the paint is a problem entirely depends on the use they are put to. As a display that no child ever puts in their mouth, there is no problem but it is not worth the risk of letting a child who puts toys or fingers in their mouth play with them. Whether they're worth testing depends on their worth. If you could replace them for $30, they're only worth discarding. If they're irreplaceable, depending on how many colours there are, the cheapest test costs around $9 per spot test and you require one per colour being tested but I would only feel safe giving them to a "high-hand-to-mouth" child if every colour proved to be "negative" for lead (the spot test kits change to pink - "positive" when there's more than 0.5% lead in the paint).

Regards
Elizabeth O'Brien

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