Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is lead really in everything?

My good friend over at ChewyMamas Unite just recently blogged about lead in artificial Christmas trees. To be completely honest, I hadn't even give it much thought at all until she mentioned it. *sigh* Apparently many artificial Christmas trees have lead in the PVC used to create the foilage as well as lead in the wires for the lights. Here's why:



  • Lead is a flame retardant

  • Lead makes the plastic around the wires (lights, power cords, extension cords) flexible

  • Lead helps the plastic retain its color better

Unfortunately lead is toxic and can cause severe mental retardation. With all of the recent news on lead in kids toys, it's really brought to light the toxicity issue in general. People are paying a lot more attention to where their toys come from. Sadly everyone is mostly focused on just lead, because there are a lot more chemicals to be nervous about. But at least it's a start!



We have an artificial Christmas tree. I thought it was the better choice several years ago - not cutting down a real tree. We tried a living potted tree about 7 years ago and that was a pain. We potted it in our back yard, but what a mess... It was SO heavy and there was mud everywhere. Cut trees are beautiful, but why aren't there any bugs on them? Why are they so perfect? Because they're heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungacides. So what's the best solution? I don't really know.

There is one "lead-free" artificial tree making company that resides here in the US called USChristmasTree.com. They absolutely guarantee their tree won't contain lead. Unfortunately, there isn't a solution for the lights. I emailed the company and their lights to contain lead. They do not sell pre-lit trees because people want to avoid the lead lights, but they package them separately so people can choose to use them or not.

Another company called Living Christmas Tree has come up with a fantastic idea - renting living, potted Christmas trees. This is definitely an option I'd choose and it's not any more expensive than buying a cut tree each year. Unfortunately I don't know of a company doing this closer to my home. This company is in Oregon and does offer shipping to other states, but it is significantly more expensive.

Now the real quest? Find lead-free Christmas lights. If anyone has any leads on this, please share. :)

8 comments:

the mom said...

So, here's what I still don't understand:

Is lead dangerous just to be around, or does it have to be consumed (i.e. chewed on, sucked on, etc)?

I try to live a healthy, wholesome life, within reason; I refuse to make decision based on the scare tactics used by the media. But all the research I've done on the dangers of lead always indicates that it needs to be consumed to be a problem. I just don't see my kids putting Christmas lights in their mouth. If they did, my concerns wouldn't be for lead; I'd be more worried about electrocution.

I truly don't mean to criticize your post. I'm really just trying to understand this issue.

Deanna said...

Hi Ferbit! Long time no 'speak'! I've been meaning to say hi as I've been lurking a for a little bit. Anyway, about this post. It is so scary what we are finding lead in. I was at Target the other day going to buy some Christmas clearance and noticed on the prelit garland box had a warning label that it had lead. I was shocked and put it back. However makes me wonder how much of my 4 fake trees and garland I already have had lead in it. Especially since the baby had previously ingested a needle from the garland and it came out in her diaper. ugh! Not sure what I'll do next year. sigh.......

Inner Prop said...

How dangerous would this really be if you don't put the tree in your mouth and wash your hands after putting it up or taking it down?

We don't allow our kids to touch the tree after it is up. We don't even allow them in the room without us when they are so little that everything must be tasted.

I would think the danger of electrocution, crushing, and being cut (by ornaments or by sharp portions of the tree) would be far more dangerous than the lead.

Still, it's good to know. Thanks.

Ferbit said...

I try not to make decisions based on scare tactics either. I still put up my lead tree this year, but I was a lot more careful about my little ones touching it. I also educated my family on being safe.

Lead is dangerous when it gets internal (mouth, nose, ears, eyes) so washing hands after handling anything containing lead is a must. According to Chewy-Mama, lead dust can flake off Christmas trees and onto the packages.

Ferbit said...

But I wanted to also mention... I don't plan on buying a new artificial Christmas tree next year. I'll probably keep the one I have because I don't feel like spending the money on a less toxic one.

I think as long as we wash our hands and are more careful, it will be fine. I'd really like to check into the "living rental tree" idea someday.

*waving hi* Deanna! Great to hear from you!!!

Alma said...

Yeah well, what about the dust that falls all over your presents?
Better put them over a table or somewhere else.

You should make a search on "RoHS compliant Christmas lights"

The one I'm gonna purchase this Xmas is:
http://www.eadlighting.com/twinkling_lights_clear_indoor.asp

Almost twice the price but my family's worth it.

Also consider local organic tree farms or USA made Christmas trees. These are easy to google.

Good luck and happy Hollidays to everyone.

teslajovovich at yahoo dot com

Alma said...

Yeah well, what about the dust that falls all over your presents?
Better put them over a table or somewhere else.

You should make a search on "RoHS compliant Christmas lights"

The one I'm gonna purchase this Xmas is:
http://www.eadlighting.com/twinkling_lights_clear_indoor.asp

Almost twice the price but my family's worth it.

Also consider local organic tree farms or USA made Christmas trees. These are easy to google.

Good luck and happy Hollidays to everyone.

teslajovovich at yahoo

Alma said...

Use "RoHS compliant christmas lights" on your tree, you can find them at:
www.eadlighting.com

They have lead free lights in many shapes and sizes.

Happy Holidays.

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