While bouncy fun may sound like a great plan at a kid’s birthday or other child-minded event, bounce houses are anything but fun when it comes to your child’s health and safety. This summer an in-depth investigation by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) prompted lawsuits to be filed by CEH and the California Attorney General against many leading makers, distributors and suppliers of bounce houses, also known as jump houses or inflatable jumpers. Lead limits were through the roof with many of these bounce houses. One major brand was tested as containing more than 70 times the federal limit for lead in kids’ products under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. More independent CHE testing showed that the massive amounts of lead from bounce houses expose children to lead at levels that violate California law.

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Why the lead?

According to CHE, bounce houses are most often made with vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, or PVC), a “poison plastic.” PVC as you likely know is usually made with lead. In turn, lead can cause all sorts of damage from learning disorders to brain and nerve damage to hearing problems to stunted growth and more. That’s why we’re always suggesting you avoid lead and PVC based products here at Inhabitots. Most of the research available today says that most likely there are no safe levels of lead exposure for young children.
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Before you panic!

It’s important to note that not all bouncy houses were found to contain unsafe lead levels. However, since there aren’t any safe lead levels for kids that’s not too reassuring. Jumping around in a bouncy house containing any lead probably isn’t the safest plan. That said, say you go to a kids’ birthday party and they have a bouncy house. Should you be a killjoy or allow your kid to jump?

  • You can ask which company supplied the bouncy house. CHE named the following companies in their lawsuits – Cutting Edge Creations, Inc.; Funtastic Factory, Inc. dba Einflatables.com; The Inflatable Store, Inc/Leisure Activities Co., Ltd.; Jump for Fun, Inc.; Magic Jump, Inc.; Thrillworks, Inc; Bay Area Jumps.
  • You can allow your child to jump but make sure he washes his hands after and that until he does his little hands should stay clear of his mouth. Research shows that washing up can in fact reduce lead exposure.
  • You should wash up too — especially if you’re pregnant and helping your child in and out of a bouncy house.
  • Avoid lead elsewhere. How often does your child really encounter a bouncy house? For the typical child, the risks of lead exposure from old paint, imported toys and other PVC items are greater than the risks of lead exposure via bouncy houses.
  • For your own parties skip the bouncy house. When you factor in PVC, lead and transport emissions, bouncy houses simply aren’t an eco-friendly birthday option.
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[images: via Flickr user chimothy27 and basykes]