Tests on more than 1,200 children's products, most of them still on store shelves, found that 35 percent contain lead -- many with levels far above the federal recall standard used for lead paint.
A Hannah Montana card game case, a Go Diego Go! backpack and Circo brand shoes were among the items with excessive lead levels in the tests performed by a coalition of environmental health groups across the country.
Only 20 percent of the toys and other products had no trace of lead or harmful chemicals, according to the results being released Wednesday by the Michigan-based Ecology Center along with the national Center for Health, Environment and Justice and groups in eight other states.
Of the 1,268 items tested, 23 were among millions of toys recalled this year.
Mattel recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys on fears they were tainted with lead paint and tiny magnets that children could accidentally swallow. Mattel's own tests on the toys found that they had lead levels up to 200 times the accepted limit.
The Consumer Action Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys shows how the commonly purchased children's products rank in terms of containing lead, cadmium, arsenic and other harmful chemicals. It comes in time for holiday shopping -- and amid the slew of recalls.
"This is not about alarming parents," said Tracey Easthope, director of the Ecology Center's Environmental Health Project. "We're just trying to give people information because they haven't had very much except these recall lists."
Easthope said 17 percent of the children's products tested had levels of lead above the 600 parts per million federal standard that would trigger a recall of lead paint. Jewelry products were the most likely to contain the high levels of lead, the center said, with 33.5 percent containing levels above 600 ppm. Among the toys that tested above that limit was a Hannah Montana Pop Star Card Game, whose case tested at 3,056 ppm.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a level of 40 ppm of lead as the maximum that should be allowed in children's products. Lead poisoning can cause irreversible learning disabilities and behavioral problems and, at very high levels, seizures, coma, and even death.