The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff today warned that there is a potential risk of lead exposure from baby bibs with cracked or peeling vinyl surfaces. This consumer alert applies only to used bibs that are worn or have deteriorated. Pieces of vinyl containing lead could pose a hazard to infants if they are swallowed. CPSC staff recommends that parents and caregivers discard bibs that are in poor condition to avoid any potential exposure to lead from swallowed vinyl.
Some vinyl materials, including those used as the front or back of baby bibs, contain lead (Pb) compounds as part of their formulation. Acting on information provided by and in cooperation with the New York and Illinois Attorney Generals’ Offices, CPSC recently tested a wide range of bibs from various retailers nationwide.
The CPSC staff’s risk assessment concludes that none of the bibs that were tested at CPSC’s laboratory would pose a risk of substantial illness to children from mouthing. However, if the condition of a vinyl bib deteriorates to the point that a baby could pull or bite off and swallow a piece of vinyl containing lead, then the amounts of lead consumed could approach levels of concern.
CPSC staff therefore advises parents and caregivers to stop using vinyl bibs in such condition. In the CPSC staff’s view, this step could effectively prevent any significant risk of exposure to lead from these products. This precaution would also protect infants from the risk of choking on loose pieces of vinyl.
CPSC takes the issue of lead exposure very seriously, as lead is toxic and if ingested by young children can cause adverse health effects, such as learning disabilities, behavioral problems, growth retardation and hearing problems. There have been no reported injuries involving these bibs.
Vinyl baby bibs have been sold through major retailers since at least 2004. They range in price from $2 to $7 and come in packs of up to ten. The bibs come in colorful designs and have either a vinyl front with a cloth backing or a cloth front with vinyl backing.
Manufacturers and retailers, in cooperation with the CPSC and the New York and Illinois Attorneys General, plan to develop clear and effective guidelines addressing the use of vinyl in children’s products.