Bounce houses may expose kids to unsafe lead levels

Oct 4, 2010 at 2:05 p.m. ET

The Center for Environmental Health has filed a lawsuit against many leading suppliers of bounce houses -- also called jump houses or inflatable jumpers-- because testing showed lead levels were over 70 times the federal limit, as determined by the Consumer Product Safety. Parents of kids who love burning energy jumping and playing in bounce houses are left feeling worried and angry that their children are not being protected.

bouncy house

Testing showed that some bounce houses are made with a vinyl called polyvinyl chloride or PVC that is often manufactured with lead. "Parents expect that their children might be a little dizzy after a jumping session, but most parents would never suspect that a bounce house could pose a hidden health threat. We look forward to working with the Attorney General to eliminate these unnecessary lead exposures to children," says said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH.

What are the dangers of lead?

Unsafe levels of lead exposure can cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities and can even progress to seizures, coma and death at high levels, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are your kids at risk?

"I'm horrified by these findings. My daughter just celebrated her 6th birthday with a bounce house party, and we've been to at least seven other bounce house events in the last year," said Mary Brune, co-founder of MOMS, a group working towards eliminating toxic chemicals in the environment.

Before you panic, know that it doesn't appear that all bounce houses contain unsafe lead levels. The CEH tested several bounce houses and found those in the lawsuit had lead levels ranging from 5,000ppm to 29,000 ppm. The federal limit is 90 ppm for painted surfaces and 300 ppm for all other parts. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics has said there are no safe levels of lead for children.

The companies included in the lawsuit include Bay Area Jump; Cutting Edge Creations; Funtastic Factory, known as; Magic Jump; Leisure Activities Co.; Thrillworks; The Inflatable Store; Jump for Fun, Inc. and Jump for Fun National, Inc. Read more about the lawsuit at the Center of Environmental Health's website.

Protecting your kids from lead

If you are planning on renting a bounce house or taking your children to a place with one, check to see who the supplier is and if they are named in the above lawsuit. You may want to dress your kids in long pants and socks while jumping. Talk to them about not putting their hands in their mouth or around their face until they have washed. Make sure they wash their hands thoroughly before eating. Finally, make sure you give them a bath or shower after jumping.

"Kids at birthday parties can spend hours playing in bounce houses," says California Attorney General Jerry Brown. "The goal of our lawsuit is to eliminate any chance they will be exposed to lead while they're jumping around having a good time."

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