News Release

High Levels of Lead Found in Fidget Spinners

Consumer group warns of potential lead in fidget spinners; testing conducted by Wisconsin news station reveals fidget spinner part contained more than 400 times legal limit of lead
For Immediate Release

WITI FOX6 News in Milwaukee recently tested certain fidget spinners for lead and according to the lab results, four fidget spinners bought from high-profile online and retail stores contained alarmingly high levels of lead. One fidget spinner contained a part that was found to be more than 400 times the legal limit for lead. 

U.S. PIRG Education Fund cautions parents who have young children who have access to fidget spinners.

Lead exposure is particularly damaging for young children because of its impact on development. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to undermine IQ, attentiveness, and academic achievement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes clear that any amount of lead in a child’s blood is unsafe.

Since the effects of lead exposure cannot be reversed, it is especially important to prevent lead exposure to children in the first place. Unfortunately, toys can pose a risk in part because lead is used in other countries and can be found in imported products. Additionally, lead may be incorporated into plastic. Lead is used to soften plastic and make it more flexible, but when the plastic is exposed to sunlight, air, or detergents, the chemical bond between the lead and plastic breaks down, forming lead dust. Children can inhale or come in contact with this dust when they put toys in or near their mouths.

FOX6 found 3 fidget spinners that contained excessive levels of lead from Amazon.com:

  • One contained a pin that measured at 38,151 ppm.
  • Another had arms that measured at 38,308 ppm, center that tested at 10,370 ppm, and pin that registered at 14,731 ppm.
  • The final one had arms that measured at 44,827 ppm, center that tested at 17,241 ppm, and pin that registered at 34,875 ppm.

And one from Walmart.com which contained:

  • Arms tested 34,510 ppm lead, center that tested at 28,048 ppm, and pin that registered at 10,086 ppm.

With a few exceptions, federal law requires that all children’s products manufactured after August 2011 contain no more than 100 ppm of total lead content in all accessible parts. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which is the government body that has authority to recall toys, defines accessible parts as parts that a child could reach through “normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse of the product.”

  • Paint or similar surface coatings on all children’s products are subject to a limit of 90 ppm of total lead. (Household paints are also subject to this rule.)
  • Exceptions to these standards include metal components of bicycles, which cannot contain more than 300 ppm of lead. Components in electronic devices, some used children’s products, inaccessible parts, and other items are exempt from the lead standard.

Note that these limits do not meet the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recommends that all products intended for use by children contain no more than trace amounts of lead, defined as 40 ppm.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund has the following recommendations:

For Parents:

  • Examine fidget spinners carefully and look for defects before giving to children and report unsafe products to the CPSC at Saferproducts.gov;
  • Keep fidget spinners away from young children who tend to put objects in their mouths;
  • Subscribe to email recall updates from the CPSC and other U.S. government safety agencies available at www.recalls.gov;

For Policymakers:

  • The Trump Administration has proposed to cut funding for the CPSC by 1.6%. Funding for this important commission should be maintained or expanded, not cut, considering how important toy safety is for protecting our families; and
  • Policymakers should continue building upon recent progress in the strengthening of toy safety standards.

For CPSC:

  • Perform testing on fidget spinners for lead and recall products that have high levels of lead
    • It’s nearly impossible for consumers to tell if their fidget spinner has high levels of lead since it’s an invisible poison, so the CPSC should step up and test these products since it has the authority to recall them
    • Hold companies manufacturing and selling lead-tainted fidget spinners accountable, which also sends a message to other companies.

Check out U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s annual Trouble in Toyland report here, which contains information about the threats toys can pose to children as well as the continued prevalence of recalled toys still available for sale. 

# # #

U.S. PIRG Education Fund, is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.

Support us

Your tax-deductible donation supports U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s work to educate consumers on the issues that matter, and the powerful interests that are blocking progress.

Learn More

You can also support U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s work through bequests, contributions from life insurance or retirement plans, securities contributions and vehicle donations.