I do not know why I have not seen this before – LEAD in Christmas lights?? The PVC coating on the strands contains a certain amount of lead, which is required by the UL (Underwriters Laboratories who sets the safety standards for product compliance) to act as a fire retardant and gives it its flexibility.
If you look at the back of your Christmas light box, you will see a little warning that the product contains lead which is known in the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects. Many people think California is a bit liberal, but when it comes to product safety and requiring companies to post warnings on all products that contain potentially harmful components, they are right on target. I back them 100% and we should all look to California as an example here.
The fact is, no amount of lead has been determined to be safe for humans. Let me repeat that – NO AMOUNT OF LEAD IS CONSIDERED SAFE. Yet we come into contact with it in our daily lives. Not only is lead in Christmas tree lights, but in nearly all electrical cords as it is found in the PVC coating to help make it flexible.
Is there a safe alternative to lead? YES, calcium and zinc are said to be as effective and are both approved by UL. Companies have not pursued this because it would be too expensive. I for one am willing to shell out a few more bucks to rid my house of these toxic lights. So, we will continue to be exposed to lead unless someone does something about it.
What can we do?
- First, keep your children away from the lights. It’s electric, so really they should not be playing with the lights in the first place.
- Wash your hands and your children’s hands after touching the lights.
- Wear gloves while stringing up or adjusting lights.
As mentioned, lead is found in most electrical cords – take precautions when handling those as well.
- If you really want to be heard, don’t buy Christmas lights and write letters to GE, Phillips, etc. and demand lead-free electrical products. Encourage others to do the same.
- Search for lead free Christmas lights and electric products, and let me know if you find any because my search resulted in dead ends.
Hope you have a safe and blessed Christmas season!