Lunch Box Lead Tests Raise Concerns

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Lunch box safety

Democratic lawmakers said Thursday a report by The Associated Press raised "serious questions" about test methods conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for unsafe amounts of lead in children's vinyl lunch boxes.

"If the implications are true, we are appalled," wrote House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., and three other Democrats. They wrote to CPSC acting Chairman Nancy Nord and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach.

The lawmakers said they were considering holding hearings and drafting legislation
to address the issues raised in the story.

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The AP reported Sunday that government scientists, in testing 60 vinyl lunch boxes in 2005, found that one in five contained unsafe amounts of lead, with several having more than 10 times hazardous levels.

The CPSC had released a statement that they had found "no instances of hazardous levels" and refused to release actual test results. The data was retrieved through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents described two types of tests. One involved cutting a chunk of vinyl off the box, dissolving it and then analyzing how much lead is in the solution; the second test involved swiping the surface of a box and then determining how much lead has rubbed off.

The CPSC focused on the swipe test, which found lower lead results.

Commission spokeswoman Julie Vallese has said they stand by past statements, which found that in most cases "children would have to rub their lunch box and then lick their hands more than 600 times every day, for about 15-30 days, in order for the lunch box to present a health hazard."

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