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Tom Callan and Amanda Butterfield Reporting Because it's "Lead Poisoning Awareness Week," Salt Lake County officials are doing something today they have never done before. They're inviting parents to bring all their children's toys in to get tested.
The Salt Lake County Government Building was full of toys, jewelry, dishes, furniture and anything residents wanted to get tested for lead. It's the first time they've ever hosted a lead testing day. "We want to make sure people are safe in their homes," Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon said.
Even Corroon took advantage of the county's "Lead Safe Testing Day." He brought in all his kids' toys to be examined. "They all tested negative, so my children will be able to play with their toys again this evening," he said.
The reason the county hosted today's event is because of the toys recalled from China due to possible lead contamination. "I think a lot of people are wondering, ‘Are the toys my children playing with safe?' And we want to make them people feel comfortable that their toys are safe," Corroon explained.
Sue Fox, lead outreach coordinator, says you can't always tell by looking whether a toy is caked or coated with lead. "The problem lies is if the paint starts to chip or peel, and that's when the problem comes when the child puts that toy in [his or her] mouth," she said.
But, it's not just toys that could have lead. People were invited to bring jewelry, furniture, dishes, and whatever else they thought might contain the metal.
County officials are also educating the public about the possible danger of lead in their homes. "In the Salt Lake Valley there's probably about 600 children that are poisoned with lead right now," explained Randy Jepperson, Salt Lake County housing manager.
April Blakeley packed up all her children's toys and drove 45 minutes to get them tested after her pediatrician encouraged it. "I probably brought at least 50 toys that have been tested," Blakeley said. "They said the effects of lead poison are so severe, it's worth the time to get them all tested. So here we are."
Some of those effects include learning disabilities, brain and nerve damage. "It's an issue. It's a real concern, but we can do something about it. It can be controlled," Jepperson said.
The good news: while KSL News was there no one had items that tested positive. "They're coming out with flying colors, so we're going to go home and play with all of them now," Blakeley said.
Lead testing will continue until 7 p.m. at the County Government Center. Fox said if today's event is a success, they may do it again.
For more information about the county's "Lead Safe Testing Day" or their Lead Safe housing program, click the related links.