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QUESTION: One year old swallowed about 10 tiny flat-backed crystals - how do I find out if they contain lead? 17 Jul 2008 Missouri, USA

Last night my one year old swallowed about 10 tiny flat backed crystals (from the craft store that you would use to decorate an object). They were very small, and I know they could probably pass through fine, I am just concerned that the silver back could have lead in it. I don't know where to find out.

ANSWER: 17 Jul 2008

Hi Angela,

If you are unable to locate a definitive answer to the question as to whether the silver back or indeed the crystal itself contains lead, and if all the crystals have not already passed through your one year old, then if I were you I would head straight to a children's hospital or large medical center and request an x-ray of the gut, and a blood lead test if any metal is revealed in the x-ray. If metal is revealed in the x-ray, and especially if the blood lead level is elevated (by which I mean above average, that is, above approximately 2 micrograms per deciliter), then the option exists that the crystals could be medically removed from the gut, rather than waiting for them to pass. If there is no metal revealed in the x-ray, I would still request a blood lead test just to be sure.

[If the house you live in was built prior to 1978, then I would request the blood lead test (from any doctor) regardless of any other information or risk factor because, just being one year of age and living in a pre-1978 house is sufficient to justify a blood lead test and a blood lead test is indeed a requirement if you are a Medicaid patient and live in certain high lead-risk communities. Since your one year old is obviously capable of swallowing non-food items, then that counts as a third risk factor so the child REALLY needs a blood lead test as soon as possible, regardless of just this one incident.]

After you have sorted out the blood lead test, the usual source of information as to the lead content of a consumer product is the supplier, and the supplier (the craft store) should at the very least be able to provide you with the contact details of the manufacturer or importer who in turn MUST supply you (or the craft store) with the laboratory analysis report on lead content of the crystals, if you request it. If you are not convinced as to the accreditation of the lab once you receive the lab report, or if you do not receive a lab report, then you are certainly entitled to make a complaint to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). You can make your complaint online at (specifically a consumer can file an incident report at https://www.saferproducts.gov/CPSRMSPublic/Incidents/ReportIncident.aspx) or you can try emailing it to [email protected] or phone the CPSC's Office of Hazard Analysis and Reduction on (301) 504-0407.

I wish you the best in your search for information which will help you to take appropriate action on your quite justifiable concern that the crystals may contain lead. Please let me know how things turn out.

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

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