Recent tales of child fatalities caused by the swallowing of leaded items like small beads in toys will surely lead to futher outcrys of the metal’s harmful effects. In response to one tragic event, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall on certain lead-containing jewelry. Several makers have already pulled charm bracelets that contain small lead pieces off the shelves.
Lead has little or no place as an item in toys and costume jewelry where it can come into contact with humans, especially small children. Still, how much do you want to bet that in all the stories this tragedy spawns, not one points to the useful — indeed, critical — place lead assumes in our everyday life.