Freddie Gray’s saga exposed the fact that Baltimore’s aging housing stock can be a source of lead poisoning for children. Recently, the Baltimore City Health Department found that chain stores could also pose risks.
Inspectors found elevated levels of lead at Target and Five Below locations in Canton Crossing, according to the Health Department. On June 12, the inspectors randomly bought a Hello Kitty necklace from Target (made by Sanrio, Inc.) and a hypoallergenic 6-pair earring set from Five Below. When tested at an independent lab, both items were found to have lead levels of more than the legal limit of 100 parts per million.
As a result, the items were deemed a “nuisance to public health,” and are no longer allowed to be sold in Baltimore City, said City Health Commissioner Leana Wen.
“These items sell for just a few dollars but they are hardly a bargain,” said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner. “We know that the health impact and true costs of lead poisoning can last a lifetime.”
Children under 6 years old are especially at risk of lead poisoning because of its effects on development. They’re also more likely to put small items in their mouth, which is how lead poisoning is contracted. The CDC has more on lead in children’s toys.