Says Tamara from Lead Safe Mama: ‘Many of the books I have tested, including books like Winnie the Pooh — especially hardcover books with painted decorations on the covers from the 1940s and 1950s and earlier — have been positive for 4,000 – 8,000 ppm Lead (or higher) in the worn painted covers when tested with an XRF instrument.
‘Current standards require that all newly-manufactured items today that test above 90 ppm Lead or higher in the paint or coating are to be considered illegal to be sold as an item “intended for use by children”.’
She adds: ‘Make no mistake about it: not only are Leaded inks used in the printing of most of these books, but these covers are often painted with actual LEAD-BASED PAINT, which all scientists agree creates Lead dust in one of the most dangerous forms for children.
‘Lead paint dust can be a very significant hazard / significant exposure source of Lead for a child. This exposure concern is present even if young children are using these old books “normally” / “as intended” [they don’t need to be chewing on them them to potentially be exposed].’
Recent results on tests carried out by Tamara on a vintage Dr Seuss Are You My Mother? book delivered alarming results - with unsafe levels of lead and antimony recorded. Click here for the full results.
The findings have forced Tamara to issue a warning to parents about the dangers of vintage books.
She writes: ‘Vintage books are not generally safe for children to play with or read [and while this one is fairly low Lead, I have tested many vintage books that have much higher levels — in some cases orders of magnitude higher!]. If you must keep them for sentimental reasons, please keep them locked in a case behind glass – as you might with works of art, or other items of historical significance.
‘Books made after 1980 are more likely to be Lead-free (but this is in no way guaranteed). Your best bet in looking for safe books (safe from a toxicant / heavy metal perspective) for use by young children is to only purchase books printed after 2011 (after which the United States Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was fully enforceable.)’
For more on Tamara’s amazing work - head here!