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Consumer group raises concerns about lead in popular fidget spinners

FIDGET SPINNERS.jpg
A fidget spinner. (KOMO)

SEATTLE (KOMO) - If you or anyone in your family has a popular fidget spinner, keep them away from children younger than 3 years old.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission's spinner safety reminder comes after reports of high lead levels in some spinner models.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which conducted the lead tests, says the lead concern is reason enough to issue a recall, but CPSC says fidget spinners will remain on store shelves.

The trendy fidget spinners are often marketed as a way to reduce anxiety and stress, and even improve focus. They're a huge hit with kids.

"We found that they have a very high level of lead in them," said WASHPirg's Elise Orlick, stressing that even small amounts of lead are dangerous for children who can ingest lead dust by putting their fingers in their mouths after handling the spinners, and by putting the spinners themselves in their mouths.

The consumer advocacy group posted its findings on the U.S. PIRG website, saying it's especially concerned about extremely high lead levels found in one spinner model that tested 33,000 parts per million of lead in the center circle and 22,000 parts per million in the spinning arm.

The federal legal limit for lead in children's products is 100 parts per million.

Orlick emphasizes many of the spinners were found in the toy aisles in retail stores.

Because of spinners' huge popularity with children, the PIRGs want them recalled.

But new safety information posted on the CPSC website explains that fidget spinners are not considered children's toys because they are not primarily intended for children.

"Fidget spinners are general use products unless they are primarily intended for children 12 years of age and younger," the CPSC explained on its website.

The agency's warning: Keep fidget spinners away from children under 3 years of age because of the potential choking hazard from small parts. And warn children of all ages not to put fidget spinners or small pieces in their mouths and not to play with the fidget spinner near their faces.

Safety regulators also say be especially careful if you have a "light up" spinner with button or lithium batteries, because the batteries can cause serious burns to the esophagus if they're accidentally swallowed.

The CPSC acknowledges that choking incidents have been reported involving children up to age 14, and there are also concerns about lithium batteries overheating.

The PIRGs say they'll continue to push to get fidget spinners classified as a toy -- so they'll have to meet federal lead standards for children.

"Saying fidget spinners aren't toys defies common sense," said Orlick, "as millions of parents whose kids play with spinners can tell you."