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The most heartbreaking part of this 1923 brochure is its emphasis on kids having fun with the whole “Lead Family” of products, whose presence in everything from their nursery walls to their windup toys made young children particularly susceptible to its dangers. Combined with lead paint’s seductively sweet flavor, putting kids in environments literally covered with the stuff was a recipe for disaster.
In fact, the effects of lead poisoning (brain damage, seizures, hypertension, etc.) were known long before the Consumer Product Safety Commission finally banned them in 1977; the industry had simply refused to acknowledge them. An article by Jack Lewis published in the EPA Journal in 1985 covers lead’s history as an additive and poison, and how we’ve consistently downplayed its adverse effects. Lewis writes:
“The Romans were aware that lead could cause serious health problems, even madness and death. However, they were so fond of its diverse uses that they minimized the hazards it posed. Romans of yesteryear, like Americans of today, equated limited exposure to lead with limited risk.”
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