The Lurking Element: A Study About the Dangers of Lead and other Harmful Elements in Northern Kentucky Vending Machines
Imagine yourself walking into a dollar store with a young child. As soon as you reach the door, the child is drawn to the vending machines that contain numerous toys. As a parent, you give your child a couple of quarters to get a toy of his or her choice. After the child receives the toy, she marks it by licking and chewing it. As consumers, we tend to believe those toys are safe for use, but sometimes those toys can contain toxic chemicals, such as lead and other metals. Although lead exposure has decreased tremendously over the past three decades, there still concerns about exposure, especially with toys in vending machines and other consumer products for children. An experimental study was conducted by collecting numerous small toys from the Northern Kentucky River Region, and examining them for lead and nine (9) other toxic elements including arsenic, barium, bromine, cadmium, chlorine, chromium, mercury, antimony, and selenium. New global regulations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission related to lead levels in children’s toys and other commercial products have increased the need to analyze products for lead and other toxic elements. The research conducted by Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) Department of Environmental Health Science (EHS) addresses a part of this need. The research also shows a need for technologies that will help businesses and manufacturers monitor their products for the presence of lead and other toxic elements, such as arsenic, mercury and cadmium.