Dr. Mielke, along with the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based non-profit group HealthyStuff.org and Dr. Holly Groh, a founder of VerdiGras in New Orleans, studied beads from China. They found lead and an array of toxic and cancer-causing metals and chemicals, including bromine, chlorine, cadmium, arsenic, tin, phthalates and mercury.Problem isn't going to go away overnight. Safer, recyclable or degradable alternatives are becoming available but they're relatively expensive compared to the standard plastic stuff and can't be ordered in the same bulk quantities. And most of these parades and their riders are on pretty tight budgets so.. well, it's a process.
At least one of these chemicals was found in 90 percent of the beads at levels higher than allowed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
"Basically, if you have lead exposure early on in childhood, it does change the ability throughout life," Dr. Mielke said.
Lead exposure from leaded gasoline, wheel weight and paint of the past in urban areas has been scientifically linked to learning and behavior problems.
On the other hand, if we find that the toxicity is a clear enough danger, we should be able to ban the leaden beads straight away. But we all know things don't work like that around here.