Parents Taking Toy Issue Into Own Hands

hughes mom and kids

As a mother of three, D.J. Nordquist knew what to expect when her youngest daughter, Britt, was learning to talk.

"She does not have the number of words that she should have at this age," Nordquist said. "She should have about six to eight and she really doesn't. She's got 'momma' and 'dadda.'"

Nordquist thinks she knows why Britt's speech is delayed: lead exposure, CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes reports.

"The pediatrician called me and said this is higher than we like to see it," she said.

Nordquist, who is a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is now talking about recalled toys. She says it was Thomas the Train that likely made Britt sick.

"I had seen her sucking on them," she said.

Her fears are familiar to the Center for Environmental Health, a small non-profit in Northern California, which has used its limited resources to uncover lead in children's products for years.

They continue to randomly check toys using a high-tech hand-held lead tester.

If the non-profit can get its hands on a device and randomly test items that kids can get their hands on, why isn't the government capable of doing that?

"The government is capable of doing it. The problem is there is a lack of political will right now," said Michael Green from the Center for Environmental Health.

But the latest rash of recalls has parents taking action on their own - going to screenings around the country and even going to so-called "lead parties," thrown by the United Steel Workers.

Susan Guzman, one mom at a lead party, said, "I am relieved that this is a negative result!"

Sales of $15 home testing kits have skyrocketed. At some major hardware chain stores, increasingly by 100 percent. And while the CPSC calls them unreliable, advocates say they're good enough to detect lead, just not specific amounts.

Toy analysts caution parents that lead in toys is just one of several toy dangers.

"As a parent you need to be worried about magnets and small chocking objects," said Wishes magazine editor Jim Little.

Tell that to Nordquist, who is already worrying about this Christmas.

"I am definitely going to look pretty carefully at the list that my kids draw up for Santa and think it through pretty hard," she said. "I might go the puppy route."

A messy choice - but one that won't make her children sick.