Popular Sippy Cup Tests Positive for Lead -- but Company Cancels Its Recall

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When it comes to potential toxins in your little one's sippy cup, the first thing you think of is probably BPA, a compound found in plastics that's been linked to everything from asthma to heart disease. But when a natural parenting blogger recently tested a popular brand of sippy cup, the results found another very scary contaminant lurking in levels far above the legal limit: Lead.

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Natural Baby Mama tested a Green Sprouts sippy cup (which is popular with her readers) for lead. The outside of the sippy cup is a plastic case; on the inside is a glass jar with writing on it. The writing (which is on the outside of the jar) tested positive for lead at 3,003 parts per million (ppm) -- and the legally allowable limit of lead for products that children are going to come into contact with is only 90 ppm

More from CafeMom: There's Lead in Baby Food But You Won't Find It on the Label

Understandably, many moms were concerned when they heard about the results, with some even performing their own experiments with at-home testing swabs. The uproar was loud enough that I Play Inc., the company that makes Green Sprouts, issued a voluntary recall of the cups  -- except that the very next day, it backpedaled, claiming its products tested within the safe limits and that it would be working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

It's important to note that the CPSC does not require products to stay under the 90 ppm limit for "inaccessible component parts" that do not come in direct contact with a child. 

But does that mean the cups are truly safe to use?

We asked Caroline Cox, research director for the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), what parents really need to know about these sippy cups. For one thing, since much of the Green Sprouts testing was done at home, was there a chance that the results were inaccurate?

Well, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an EPA-recognized lead test kit can "reliably determine" the presence of lead-based paint -- when used by a "trained professional." Hmm.

But, unfortunately, according to Cox, the CEH turned up similar findings:

"CEH has been testing children's products for lead and other chemicals for two decades," she says. "Our screening confirms that the sippy cups contain high levels of lead."

And that's just not okay, as Cox explains.

"Lead is a stunningly toxic chemical that is linked to a long list of serious health problems, including lower intelligence test scores, behavior problems, cancer, strokes, high blood pressure, kidney problems, anemia, cavities, and delayed puberty, among others," she tells us. "Doctors and scientists say that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for children."

(In this case, as in so many others, it seems there is a difference between what experts consider "safe" and what is technically "legal.")

More from CafeMom: Lead in Juice Boxes: How to Get It Out of Your Kids' Bodies

As Natural Baby Mama pointed out, kids are most likely not going to touch the writing on the outside of the glass -- "until they are old enough that they can unscrew the bottom and take it apart or help mom put it together," which apparently one reader said her son does. The writing can also wash off in the dishwasher over time.

But, even if your kid isn't going to directly touch the paint on the glass container, using the cups still seems like a bad idea considering those (horrifying) risks. And, as Natural Baby Mama wrote, the fact that the paint washes off in the dishwasher means the rest of your family's plates and cups and utensils could be contaminated, too. 

CafeMom reached out to I Play for a comment on the situation, and we will update if and when we hear back.

Ultimately, it seems a shame that Green Sprouts by I Play isn't going ahead with its recall, even if it's not technically violating any regulations. Shouldn't a company that manufactures children's products err on the side of caution? Speaking for myself, with so many other options on the market, putting your child's health in jeopardy just doesn't seem worth it. 

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