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Why hand washing and holiday decorating should go together

If you are like many Georgia residents and holiday lovers in general, you might have lights hung on the house and around a tree or two. While the twinkling lights put a twinkle in your eye and joy in your heart, they might be leaving something a little less happy on your hands.

A recent study into the contents of holiday string lights suggests that there are safety concerns with the festive decorations. Of course, there are the electrical-related concerns such as shock and electrocution that people should worry about, particularly those with children in the house. But a toxic substance also looms in many light strings.

Many have heard that lead exposure is dangerous in certain quantities. Paint with lead is the infamous danger that authorities have responded to in order to protect the public from toxic exposure. Apparently, lead exposure through paint isn't the only worry, and holiday lights contain what some might say is a dangerous level of the health-compromising substance.

Ecological researchers investigated 68 different strings of lights and found the following:

  • 79 percent contained lead.
  • 28 percent contained a high enough level of lead to be banned in Europe.
  • 54 percent contained a high enough level of lead to need safety warnings in California.

What does this mean for consumers whose homes are made bright by holiday lights? The researchers suggest that those who set up and touch the lights wash their hands after doing so. Kids and animals should be kept away from the lights and specifically kept from touching them.

If one person's health is endangered by toxic exposure, it is likely that others are at-risk, too. Someone who believes that he or she has become ill due to toxic exposure, perhaps related to an everyday product, may have legal rights that an environmental lawyer could explain.

Source: 14 News, "REPORT: 4 of 5 holiday light sets contain lead," Nick Bade, Dec. 6, 2013

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