Consumers are checking to see where products are made this holiday season more than ever.

With recalls on everything from wooden toy trains to jewelry, Americans are leery of everything made outside the United States. Millions of Chinese-made products have been pulled from retailers shelves. According to the National Center for Health, 35 percent of 1,200 toys already on store shelves have tested positive for lead.

The Salvation Army pulled donated-used toys from their shelves until the toys can be deemed safe and the U.S. Marine Corps Toys-for-Tots program has been busy checking toys donated against those recalled.

Toys and jewelry containing lead and lead based paint are dangerous because young children tend to chew and mouth toys and small objects. Lead can end up in the body of children exposed to objects containing excessive levels. Handling lead-containing objects and then putting their hands in their mouths can also expose children to lead. Lead can interfere with normal brain development, resulting in permanently reduced IQ and behavioral problems. Even small amounts of lead can be harmful.

Lead contamination is not just in children’s toys. Lead has been found in colorants used in imported candy from Mexico and in cans of juices from countries where lead is still in solder used in sealing the containers. Lead has also been used in children’s jewelry imported from China, which resulted in at least one death.

It’s not just lead either. In what was sure to be this holiday season’s hottest toy product, Aqua Dots, craft beads which fuse together when sprayed with water, were pulled from store shelves after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a powerful drug when ingested. Scientists said a chemical coating on the beads, when ingested, metabolizes into the so-called date rape drug, gamma hydroxy butyrate. When eaten, the compound — made from common ingredients — can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death. Two children in the U.S. and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.

This Christmas season it is more important than ever to be aware of such potential hazards.

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