Safety group finds lead in some fidget spinners

WASHINGTON — Fidget spinners may be popular, and high on many holiday gift lists, but an Oregon mother and a consumer advocacy group have found high levels of lead in some of the toys, and the defense offered by one retailer might be much help to most parents considering a purchase.

CBS News reported Thursday that Tamara Rubin, a Portland, Oregon, mother who runs the Lead-Safe Mama Facebook page, tests products that parents send to her, including lots of fidget spinners. She found levels of lead in many of the toys – particularly in the center, where the fingers touch.

That caught the eye of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which tested 12 brands of fidget spinners found on the toy shelves of Target stores nationwide. Two of them had high levels of lead – one of them, 300 times the legal limit.

USPIRG said it wasn’t aware of any reported cases of lead poisoning that can definitively be traced to fidget spinners, but the Centers for Disease Control says there’s no such thing as a safe level of lead.

When USPIRG notified Target about the lead levels it detected, the retailer said it wouldn’t take the spinners off the shelves. The retailer argued instead that the spinners don’t meet the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the definition of a toy, and pointed out that the spinners are clearly marked as being for ages 14 and up.

That may come as news to parents who have been seeing the gadgets on toy shelves since early this year.

The two brands of fidget spinners identified by USPIRG were the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass and the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal. The group says parents should check for the age recommendation on the package – anything for children under 12 are subject to a range of tests, including for lead.

The CDC says there is no such thing as a safe level of lead in the bloodstream, and that lead poisoning in children can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems such as ADHD and criminal behavior, and hearing and speech problems.

See the report from CBS News:

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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