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From the Desk of Senator Kemp Hannon: December 18, 2009

Lead Poisoning Not Just Lurking Near Toys

Parents are continually forewarned by media reports about the importance of buying safe toys, but there’s another quintessential holiday item that poses great danger: Christmas lights.

Senator Kemp Hannon (6th Senate District) is reminding parents that millions of holiday lights have wires that can overheat and catch fire and have been recalled over the past decade by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Damaged cords and lights can also overheat and ignite Christmas trees and decorations.

“Lead poisoning from holiday lights is another concern for parents with small children,” said Senator Hannon. “Holiday lights are a fascinating sight for young children who are easily drawn to them, but parents should make sure that children do not get too close” continued Hannon.
Lead is often added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which coats electrical cords, wires and cable, to make it more durable and heat-resistant. Some studies reveal that lead may come to the surface and stick to skin as the cord is handled.
For more information about how to reduce lead hazards in your home, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website at or contact The National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).
Follow U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tips when buying and using holiday lights:
Look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety-certification label on holiday lights.
Check old lights carefully and discard them if wires are frayed, cracked, or otherwise damaged, or if they have loose connections or broken sockets.
Keep small bulbs and fuses away from young children.
Do not plug more than three standard-sized sets of lights into a single extension cord. It puts too much of an electrical load on the cord, posing a fire risk.
If you are putting lights on a Christmas tree, water the tree daily to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
Wondering what toys may put your kids at risk this holiday season?
Check out the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s list of recent recalls at For more information about New York State and to sign up for e-mail updates, visit Senator Hannon’s website at