Holidays Vivian | 10 Jun 2011 01:52 am

A Hidden Christmas Danger

It抯 hard enough trying to read all the directions for the various gifts one receives for Christmas, but did you read the instructions BEFORE the holidays?

I bought new lights for my tree this year. It is always a good idea to keep your lights in good working order. The last thing I would want would be a fire in my home. I抦 a conscientious homeowner and also try not to have too many extension cords, or unattended candles.

This year, I was surprised to find interesting instructions on the brand new package of lights I bought this year. The warning said the wiring on my lights contained lead and to wash my hands after handling.

Lead, when ingested, can cause various ailments. In adults, when larger amounts are ingested, it can increase blood pressure and cause fertility problems, nerve disorders, muscle and joint pain, irritability, and memory or concentration problems. In young children, very low levels of exposure can result in reduced IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing, and kidney damage.

Lead is especially dangerous to pregnant women. Lead can easily be transferred to the fetus, as lead crosses the placenta. In fact, pregnancy itself can cause lead to be released from the bone, where lead is stored梠ften for decades梐fter it first enters the blood stream. (The same process can occur with the onset of menopause.) Once the lead is released from the mother’s bones, it re-enters the blood stream and can end up in the fetus. In other words, if a woman had been exposed to enough lead as a child for some of the lead to be stored in her bones, the mere fact of pregnancy can trigger the release of that lead and can cause the fetus to be exposed. In such cases, the baby is born with an elevated blood lead level.

Granted, the amount of lead that could possibly be absorbed from your Christmas lights is minimal. But read the warning label on your boxes and wash your hands after decorating the tree. Keep your hands from your mouth and perhaps refrain from allowing children to touch the wires. Consider keeping the tree in a room where children don’t normally play, or stringing the lights higher than they can reach.

And be careful getting on the bike that had all the 揺xtra?nuts and bolts after assembly.

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