Lead in Fidget Spinners Poses Risk to Kids, Consumer Group Says

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Parents everywhere know about fidget spinners. Those flippy little things have been ubiquitous for months. But now one consumer advocacy group warns fidget spinners may be putting children at risk of lead exposure.

According to Kaiser Health News, recent tests indicate that some models of fidget spinner contain unsafe levels of lead for children.

At least two common fidget spinners tested positive for lead.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, a consumer advocacy group, tested 12 commonly available models of fidget spinner. At least two, Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass and Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal, contained levels of lead unsafe for children, the organization says.

Lead levels are closely regulated in children’s toys. Kids tend to put things in their mouths, and there are no “safe” levels of lead in a child’s blood. Lead exposure can impair brain development and cause other health problems. It’s especially dangerous for small children to be exposed to lead.

Recently a baby developed lead poisoning because of a homeopathic teething bracelet her parents bought from an art fair. The bracelet’s hematite and amber beads were safe, but the metal spacer beads had unsafe levels of lead.

And kids are putting fidget spinners in their mouths. Just in May a mother warned that her 10-year-old daughter nearly choked on one, after the metal fidget spinner piece broke off in her mouth and she swallowed it. She was worried about the choking hazard. But if kids are putting fidget spinners in their mouths, that increases the risk of lead exposure if their spinners are affected.

They’re not technically marketed for children.

Both affected fidget spinners were produced by Bulls i Toy, which says the toys are marketed for kids ages 14 and up. That means they aren’t subject to regulations regarding levels of lead in children’s toys, though many smaller kids obviously use them.

Lead experts told Kaiser Health News that kids touching lead wasn’t going to be a huge problem, because it doesn’t go through the skin.

“But if this lead is on the surface of the fidget spinner, and therefore gets on the fingers of the kids, and the kids put the fingers in the mouth or put the toys in their mouth — then, clearly, there is a pathway of exposure, and they shouldn’t be in the hands of the kids,” said Jerome Paulson, an emeritus professor and pediatrician at George Washington University.

That doesn’t mean all fidget spinners are dangerous, and lead-testing kits are available in stores for parents who are worried. But one would definitely want to make sure nobody is chewing on their fidget spinners, and that applies to adults, too.

(Image: iStock / ThamKC)