Research finds dangerous chemicals in Mardi Gras beads - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Research finds dangerous chemicals in Mardi Gras beads

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NEW ORLEANS, La. - It's the most popular throw during the Carnival season.

Attending a Mardi Gras parade, you're almost guaranteed to catch at least one pair of beads.

"They would always talk about the success of Mardi Gras by the terms of tons of beads that were picked up off the ground," says Dr. Howard Mielke.

New research, though, finds thousands of pounds of dangerous chemicals in many plastic bead products.

"A lot of beads and throws ended up being toxic in levels that are surprising to us," says Dr. Holly Groh.

The study is a collaboration between HealthStuff.org and Verdigras, both non-profit organizations. Researchers tested a total of 106 beaded products for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities and cancer. In 64 percent of the beads tested, lead was found, with some showing levels above 100 ppm.

Mielke says that's higher than the Consumer Product Safety Commission allows.

"The Consumer Product Safety Commission said, well, these are not toys. They have different definitions of things and they didn't fit their definition of a toy, so they don't recognize it as a problem," Mielke says.

Mielke, though, points out children play with the beads and often put them in their mouths.

"Apparently, the Chinese make these beads from waste that is being sent from the U.S. to China and turning that electronic waste into beads and then reselling them to factories," says Mielke.

"Not to mention the people in China making this. The footage we've seen, they're in there with their raw hands and breathing this stuff in," says Groh.

Those involved in the study are hoping it will bring about change.

Beads by the Dozen tells FOX 8 that all of its imported beads meet or exceed the minimum limits of the Consumer Product Safety standards.

HealthyStuff.org recommends that you wash your hands after handling beads, never burn beads and do not store them in sunlight.

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