Toxic Levels of lead found in Childrens Books in Library

A new law targeting hazardous levels of lead in a wide variety of children’s products does not exempt books. The American Library Association thinks that's unfair, telling federal regulators that kids' books don't contain lead and checking their inventory is a waste of money. The problem we found is that nobody has ever checked to see if that's true. <a href="">KIRO Team 7 Investigators</a> grabbed an armful of used books from the children's section of Seattle's main library. Using a simple test with an easy to read result, we tested 18 books ourselves. Two samples turned pink, which means something on the book contains exposed lead.


The ALA is headquartered in Chicago, not DC.

The ALA has 16,000 branches?

Emily Sheketoff apparently has been promoted from associate executive director in the Washington Office to leading the whole organization.

Here is the bio of the news report's author:
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

when the sample turns pink, it means that book is pregnant. :)

Total Lead Content:
Limit of 600 ppm: Now -- testing by February 10, 2010*

Limit drops to 300 ppm August 14, 2009 -- testing by February 10, 2010*

Limit drops to 100 ppm (if technologically feasible) August 14, 2011 -- testing by August 14, 2011*

so those books tested in the story have almost twice the lead level they should have (in August).


"The American Library Association thinks that's unfair, telling federal regulators that kids' books don't contain lead and checking their inventory is a waste of money."

To my knowledge, the ALA never denied that some children's books contain lead.

"Halsne discovered a major 'study,' cited by the Library Association as proof that ordinary books don’t contain lead, is not what it appears."

I'm looking forward to see how badly this "study" will be misinterpreted. Reporters are rarely known for their abilities at interpreting scientific data.

After looking at the website, these reporters seem to display the worst aspect of jounalism. It seems that they are just pandering to sensationalism. I wonder what their solution is... getting rid of all books before 2003???

Maybe Ray Bradbury is right....

They failed to establish controls. Test new books, test the same new books as those in the library.

The books may have been taken into to an enviormnent with a high lead level. They may have been in a home with existing lead contamination.

The law will require new books to meet certain standards. There is no requirement that library books be subject to analysis for free Pb upon return.

This test is garbage.

The story is long on speculation and short on data. It's not that I don't believe the report; I just want to see the tests, the data, and the standards they are being measured against. I'm all for checking it out if it is something that has compelling evidence; 2 out of 18 books does not make for an overwhelming number and I'd like to know what criteria they used to check out the books.

The report really pushes the "YOUR KIDS MIGHT BE READING LEAD BOOKS" hysterics which is completely unnecessary. There is more investigation warranted, but not an illogical public concern.

One of the bad things about the journalistic realm is that inquiring about the methodologies employed by investigative reporters is a slap in the face. Such an inquiry is quite the major affront. Considering that this isn't a newbie just out of j-school, some concern over this reporting is justified. I have had editors who would have dressed people down if stuff like that report were submitted.

I put the request in as this bothered me mightily. I am rather doubtful I will hear back. I am surprised, though, that none of our conspiracy theorists thought to look at who owns KIRO.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

I guess this is where "journalism" and "science" do not meet. One of the hallmarks of the scientific method is the ability to reproduce the results of another, thus validating them. If the results are summarized, it looks like this:

- 18 books taken out of the assigned children's area of the Seattle Main Branch; the books were chosen by an unknown methodology;
- 2 of the 18 books tested positive for lead paint exposure (~11% of the sample taken)
- Both books were printed prior to 1983; Poems of Childhood tested at 546 ppm and Japanese Children’s Stories tested at 456 ppm.
- The titles and dates of publications of the 16 other books are unknown at the present time.
- The over the counter test and lab tests are presently undisclosed.

In rereading the story to pick out the facts above, there are some things that stick out for me.
(1) They declared the books in question "damaged" and paid for them. It's nice that they paid for them, but I'm unclear as to whether they were damaged due to their high lead or the lab testing.

(2) They did not disclose their results to the library. They did disclose their results to the general public outside of the library to get the snippets of parent reactions to their findings. No indication as to how the results were disclosed to the public. But the institution that will ultimately have to deal with that was left out of the disclosure. (And what did they say to the mother who asked whether she should take her books back in?)

In poking around the internet, I found an MSNBC report from March that had a couple of quotes I thought were significant.

"Also, the lead is contained only in the type, not in the illustrations, according to Allan Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs for the Association of American Publishers."


"But Jay Dempsey, a health communications specialist at the CDC, said lead-based ink in children’s books poses little danger.

“If that child were to actually start mouthing the book — as some children put everything in their mouths — that’s where the concern would be,” Dempsey said. “But on a scale of one to 10, this is like a 0.5 level of concern.” "

I guess this turns into an expert fight.

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