Are Hot Wheels Lead Free? 


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Hot Wheels were Mattel’s answer to the Matchbox car. In 1968 Elliot Handler saw his son playing with a Matchbox car and he wanted to create a line of cars to compete with that. 

Elliot’s wife, Ruth Handler, who worked at Mattel and had created the Barbie doll just a decade prior to that, was not very enthusiastic about the idea. Elliot had originally wanted Hot Wheels to look like hot rod cars instead of the Matchbox cars which were just small-scale model cars of vehicles which were in production. 

Playing with toy cars - Spelen met ...
Playing with toy cars - Spelen met speelgoed autootjes stopmotion

In May of 1968 the first sixteen Hot Wheels designs were released. These first sixteen cars would later be referred to as the Original Sweet 16. By the following year Hot Wheels was a huge success.

Although Hot Wheels have seen massive success over the years many people are concerned about whether they have lead paint in them. Of course no one wants to give their children toys that could harm them so it is an important question. 

No Hot Wheels cars made today have lead paint but older Hot Wheels (made prior to 1978) could have some. That is because lead paint in toys was outlawed in 1978. 

In 1978 a federal law was passed forbidding companies from using lead paint in children’s clothes and toys. By law an item can only contain 0.06% by weight of lead. 

While Mattel no longer uses lead paint in the production of their toys it does sometimes accidentally get used in toys that are imported from other countries. In 2007 there was a recall of Hot Wheels because of lead paint issues but there hasn’t been any problems since then. 

Mattel was fined 2.3 million dollars for importing toys from China which contained more than the allowed amount of lead in their toys. In 2007 the company recalled millions of its toys due to lead paint contamination. Mattel even created a section of their website to list toy recalls. 

If you are searching for a list of currently recalled toys from Mattel you can go here for a complete list dating all the way back to August of 1998. In this list you will see that Hot Wheels are not mentioned.

To see the most popular Hot Wheels on the market just click here. 

How Do You Tell If A Toy Has Lead Paint In It? 

While lead paint is no longer in use in the United States it is still in use in other countries around the world. This means that while companies in the United States will not be using lead paint, the toys that they are importing from their factories in other countries could accidentally contain lead (as happened in 2007). 

Companies in the United States are not allowed to sell toys that contain lead so when they find out that an item they imported does have lead they will recall that item. 

Maybe you have a toy from another country or perhaps you have some toys that have been handed down through the generations and you want to know if it is safe for your child to play with it. How can you find out if a toy has lead in it? 

The best and most accurate way to test a toy for lead is to have it tested by a certified laboratory. There are also some at home lead test kits that you can use if you don’t want to spend the money on a certified lab. 

The EPA only recognizes three of the at home lead test kits. In order to be recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency a lead test kit must produce an accurate result ninety-five percent of the time. 

The three at-home lead test kits that the EPA has approved are The Commonwealth of Massachusetts lead test kit which is only available in the state of Massachusetts, 3M LeadCheck, and D-Lead. 

The 3M LeadCheck and D-Lead tests are both available for purchase at many home improvement stores and also online by clicking here. 

These tests are available for a relatively inexpensive cost. 

These tests are only accurate if you follow the directions precisely. The first thing you will want to do is to clean the surface of what you wish to test as per the test’s directions. 

You will need a utility knife to cut through the paint on the object you are testing. If your object only has a few layers of paint, such as you would find on a toy, you can make a tiny cut straight into it. 

With the 3M LeadCheck test kit, you will squeeze the cardboard sleeve of the applicator to burst the chemical capsules inside so that these chemicals can react to each other. Gently shake the applicator to mix the chemicals, you will see a tiny bead of brownish yellow liquid at the tip of the applicator. 

Next, apply the applicator to the spot that you want to test. Rub the applicator tip back and forth while gently squeezing, making sure to get all of the exposed layers of paint. If the tip of the applicator turns red or pink then there is lead in the item that you are testing, if there is no change in color then there is not. 

If you want to verify your results afterward to make sure that the chemical reaction was working properly, you can simply place a drop of the liquid onto the lead control card that came with the test kit. If that drop turns red or pink then you know that the test was working correctly.

What Are The Symptoms Of Lead Poisoning? 

Your child has been playing with grandpa’s old soldiers for awhile now and you just realized that they contain lead. How can you tell if your child has lead poisoning? 

The only way to test to see if you or your child has lead poisoning is to go to a doctor to be tested. Usually, you won’t see any signs or symptoms until dangerous amounts of lead have accumulated. 

If you suspect that you or your child have been exposed you can call your doctor and ask to be tested. Common symptoms of lead poisoning in children are irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, sluggishness, stomach pain, vomiting, seizures, and learning delays to name a few. 

For adults symptoms are a little different. An adult with lead poisoning can have headaches, joint pain, high blood pressure, stomach pain, and difficulty concentrating or remembering. 

If you suspect that you or a loved one has lead poisoning then you need to get to a doctor to be tested. 

Lead levels can cause damage to your nervous system as well as to your kidneys. In some cases, lead poisoning can even lead to death. 

The first thing that will be done in your treatment if you do have lead poisoning will be to remove the source of lead. If you were exposed to a toy and wish to not get rid of it because of sentimental value then it might be best to put this toy up in a china cabinet so that it is on display but will not be played with. 

There are two different types of therapy to treat lead poisoning, one is an oral treatment while the other is an injection.

When Did They Stop Using Lead In Toys? 

In 1978 a law was passed in the United States of America banning the use of lead paint in toys and clothes. Other countries do not have this law so these countries may still manufacture toys and costume jewelry that contains lead. 

American companies are supposed to follow the guidelines for lead. Sometimes, they don’t check the products that they import or some products containing lead slip through. In the last decade the most common source of lead poisoning in children has come from costume jewelry which is often produced in China. 

China does not have laws about the use of lead paint

so that is why it is more common from there. 

If you have toys that were made before 1978 there is a possibility that they might contain lead. You shouldn’t allow your children to play with toys that you suspect contain lead until after you have tested them. 

Children often put toys in their mouths, or put their fingers into their mouths while playing. While Hot Wheels do not use lead paint for their cars now and have not been on the recall list after 1998 that does not mean that the older cars did not contain some amounts of lead. 

It might be best to keep the cars that were manufactured before 1978 away from your children. Though if you have one of the Original Sweet 16 cars, you’ll probably want to keep it in good condition and away from your kids anyway.

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