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Lead in PVC mini-blinds



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MEDIA RELEASE Friday 2 August 1996 116/96

Lead in PVC Mini-Blinds

FEDERAL BUREAU O F

Commonwealth, State and Territory fair trading and consum er affairs officials today announced that analysis by health authorities had confirmed that, while some PVC mini blinds did contain lead, there was insufficient health evidence that the contribution to the total lead burden is such that w ould w arrant recall of these products.

The Consum er Products Advisory Committee received advice from the Australian Environmental Health Directors Forum that:

- the aging effects of UV from sunlight and heat on PVC mini blinds may generate lead containing dust which m ay be accessible. There is also a potential that new PVC mini blinds, stabilised w ith lead containing additives may have small am ounts of bio-available surface lead;

- children m ay become exposed through running their fingers along the surface of the blind and ingesting lead dust or directly licking the blind vanes;

- the United States Consum er Product Safety Commission has given a public recom mendation that consumers w ith young children remove old PVC mini blinds from their homes and Health Canada has issued a similar advisory statement. Neither country has, to date, indicated an intention to issue formal recall notices for PVC mini blinds containing lead stabilisers; and

- while the PVC mini blinds do have a potential to contribute to childhood exposures to lead, they are only one of a num ber of potential indoor sources including paint, wall paper and norm al household dust. The contribution to the total exposure burden by PVC mini blinds can be m arkedly reduced by simple maintenance and cleaning every few months.

The offending blinds are the im ported cheaper type m ade of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, or imitation bamboo rods. Some blinds appear to be plastic but m ay be metallic w ith a plastic coating. Consumers can check this by scraping a section of the blind to see if it is silver underneath.

DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRY, SCIENCE AND TOURISM LIONEL MURPHY BUILDING, 50 BLACKALL STREET, BARTON ACT. 2600 AUSTRALIA GPO BOX 9839 CANBERRA ACT 2601 PHONE +61+(06) 250 6666 FAX +61 +(06) 273 1992

A num ber of suppliers and importers have indicated that they will now supply only lead-free blinds and it is understood that they are now available in some stores.

W hen buying plastic blinds consumers should look for labels such as 'new form ulation', 'non leaded formula', 'no lead added', or 'new non-leaded vinyl formulation'.

As an alternative to disposing of existing blinds, regular cleaning will remove the build-up of any lead dust. Rubber gloves should be w orn w hen wiping the slats dow n w ith a dam p cloth.

Medical studies have show n that behavioural problems, learning disabilities, hearing problems and grow th retardation can result from lead poisoning in children.

The risk to toddlers is that they could play w ith these blinds, then put their fingers in their m ouths and ingest the lead dust. The American studies found that a child's ingestion of about two square centimetres of dust from a blind for about 15 to 30 days could result in blood levels well above the safe level for children.

The test results showed that the am ount of lead in the blinds varied considerably from brand to brand and even within the same brand of blind.

Accordingly the aim should be to reduce the lead content in PVC products. Commonwealth, State and Territory consumer product safety agencies intend to work w ith the plastics industry to achieve this aim.

Contact: Trevor Rodgers

Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs

(06) 250 6971

CMR 148