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Like most moms, I've committed to memory "The List of Things That Could Seriously Maim or Possibly Kill My Children": Cheap lead-laced “silver” jewelry imported from China. Those damned windpipe-sized jawbreakers. Anything small and magnetic that, when ingested, immediately seeks its magnet mate, thereby ripping a potentially deadly hole in some critical organ or other. Now -- please God say it isn’t so -- I might have to add the beloved bouncy house (a.k.a. the bouncy castle, depending on where in the world you're from) to the list.
Reports of a lawsuit filed Wednesday are flying around the internet, scaring parents, caregivers and bouncy-house makers witless with their vague but nonetheless terrifying statistics: Seems that some of the inflatable jumpers, a hugely popular party staple at least among preschool crowds, contain unsafe levels of lead -- up to 29,000 parts per million -- which is more than 96 times the upper end of the federal limit of 300 parts per million. (Although on the other hand, that does leave 971,000 non-lead parts per million, which I have to admit makes me feel a tiny bit better about the whole thing.)
The issue, of course, is that exposure to lead can cause all sorts of horrific side effects ranging from learning disabilities and irritability to (at extremely high levels, which I can only hope involves snorting pure lead powder or at least drinking a heavy-metal shake) coma and death.
Keep in mind, there's no official research on the severity of the risk. So until the issue is investigated further, parents are advised to wash kids’ clothes, hands and faces after bounce-house exposure (like we wouldn’t do this anyway?), while manufacturers are being urged to post signs alerting consumers to the potential dangers. Me, I’m trying to decide whether to go ahead with my daughter’s bouncy house birthday party, or cancel the jumper and switch the theme to running-with-scissors. Any opinions?
Will you be extra cautious about letting your kid play in a bouncy house? Chime in below!