Is the dust on your miniblinds bird dust or harmful lead? Aging plastic miniblinds can cause lead poisoning in young children, the government warned and the industry promised to upgrade its products. Every year, 25 million non-glossy, vinyl miniblinds are imported from China, Taiwan, Mexico and Indonesia. Lead is added during production to stabilize the plastic in the blinds. The miniblinds in question are the least expensive available, at $5 to 10 per window covering. The plastic deteriorates from exposure to sunlight, heat or cold to form lead dust on the blind's surface, the commission found. Children may ingest the lead if they touch the dust and then put their hands into their mouths.
The commission found children ingesting lead dust from less than 1 square inch of blind each day for 15 to 30 days could have dangerously elevated lead levels in their blood. Even tiny amounts of lead can cause brain damage, lifelong learning disabilities and behavioral problems for children under 6. The commission recommends replacing plastic miniblinds if children under age 6 are likely to come into contact with them.
Responding to pressure from the commission, manufactures voluntarily agreed to stop importing blinds made with lead. Products labeled 'nonleaded' or 'new formulation' should be on shelves next month.