CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — It’s the season of gift-giving, and many are shopping for toys for presents on children’s wishlists.

However, many popular toy products, especially those shipped from overseas, can contain lead.

Lead is most often found in toys made of plastic materials, as well as jewelry, according to St. Lawrence County Public Health Director Jolene Munger.

“With lead, there are different standards that are acceptable limits to what the toys are. What we make here, we don’t typically use a lot of lead in our production anymore. Whereas overseas, it’s more common to use it,” Munger said.

Lead is commonly used in plastics to make them softer and more pliable. But Public Health is most concerned with lead ingestion, especially among young children.

“It’s when you ingest lead where the toys become a problem. Especially with the younger kids, they’re putting the toys in their mouths,” Munger explained.

Public Health warned that once someone ingests too much lead, the effects can be detrimental and irreversible. Even low levels of lead exposure can lead to:

  • Brain damage
  • Slowed growth
  • Developmental, learning and behavioral problems

If a child had been exposed to a toy containing lead, or if a child has a recalled toy, parents are urged to take the toy away immediately and contact the child’s healthcare provider. However, Public Health said that most children who are exposed to lead have no immediate symptoms. Exposure is usually determined by a blood test.

To check on which children’s toys are safe, check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website or call 1-800-638-2272.