MILWAUKEE — An investigation by FOX6's Contact 6 discovered some fidget spinners appear to have high levels of lead beyond the allowable limit for children.
Contact 6 decided to take a closer look at fidget spinners after Andrew Brown bought some fidget spinners for his five-year-old son.
"My first instinct was to try Amazon," Brown said.
One of the fidget spinners Brown ordered from Amazon arrived in a package from China. To be safe, Brown decided to do an at-home lead test.
"We did a simple wipe test with a 3M kit," said Brown.
He says the fidget spinner tested positive.
"My concern is that people just aren't aware of what they could be getting when they buy these," Brown explained.
Contact 6 can't confirm whether Brown's spinner actually contained lead because he threw it away. However, the experience had Contact 6 wondering if other fidget spinners sold on Amazon have lead levels above the allowable standards. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website:
"With a few limited exceptions explained below, all children's products manufactured must not contain more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of total lead content in accessible parts."
Contact 6 purchased seven fidget spinners from Amazon including a rainbow one that closely resembled Brown's.
Contact 6 brought the fidget spinners to Accelerated Analytical Laboratories for lead testing.
"There could be lead in the paint. For all we know, there could also be lead in the processing of even the plastics and how they were made. It could be blended into metal," explained laboratory supervisor Thomas Hirsch.
Hirsch disassembled each spinner in order to analyze each individual component. Some of the pieces were ground into shavings and some dissolved in acid so the lab could analyze their composition.
"We found very high levels of lead," Hirsch said.
The three spinners that tested high all appeared to have a brass component or body, including the rainbow spinner that resembled Brown's.
"They used an alloy, a metal alloy to make the fidget spinner that has lead in it itself," Hirsch explained.
According to laboratory results, the center pin on the rainbow spinner registered 380 times higher than the allowable limit of lead for a child's toy.
Two other brass spinners had arms that registered at 380 and 450 times the allowable limit.
The results concerned Peter Skopec who is the Director of the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG).
WISPIRG has been testing toys for 30 years.
"It's definitely disturbing," Skopec said.
Skopec says the risk with lead is when it gets into the bloodstream.
"Lead can have serious health impacts especially for young kids, impair how children learn and behave, can lower their IQ and this damage is irreversible," Skopec said. "The bottom line is that any product that is bought and sold in the U.S. should be safe for kids to use."
Of the spinners Contact 6 tested, none are available through their links on Amazon today.
Still, many other spinners are.
Amazon sent Contact 6 the following statement about spinners sold on their website:
"Safety is among our highest priorities. We want our customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon.com. All fidget spinners currently sold on Amazon must comply with testing standards for toys for children ages 3 and up."
Contact 6 shared the results of the test with the CPSC as well.
The CPSC's response included the following information:
"Not all fidget spinners are primarily intended for children 12 and younger. If they are primarily intended for children, they would have to comply with the federal lead standard."
The CPSC told Contact 6 it will be taking a closer look at the results of the test.
Brown says even if a spinner isn't intended for a child, it could end up in one's hands anyway.
"They're going to be curious about them and play with them," Brown said.
Brown isn't taking any chances. His wife made some spinners at home to ensure they know exactly what's in their son's hands.
Many kids have plastic fidget spinners and those did fine in the Contact 6 test. So did another spinner that appeared to be made of aluminum.
Two of the spinners that tested high were shipped directly from China. However, other spinners tested were made in China as well and they did not register high levels of lead.
After getting the results from fidget spinners sold on Amazon, Contact 6 purchased three similar-looking spinners from Target and Walmart.com. Two of the spinners resembled Brown's. Contact 6 had those spinners tested for lead. The two spinners that resembled Brown's did not exceed the allowable limit for lead.
One of the spinners, purchased at Walmart.com, tested about 345 times above the allowable limit for lead. Officials from Walmart told Contact 6 the fidget spinner was only available on the Walmart Marketplace and not in stores. Walmart has pulled it from the website while it investigates.
It's important to note that Accelerated Analytical is not a CPSC accepted testing laboratory. However, Accelerated Analytical says it did follow CPSC methods and recommendations. The test was for research purposes only.