Fidget spinners are having a moment – practically everywhere you go someone has one twirling on a fingertip or tucked into a pocket. But environmental activist Tamara Rubin recently tested a variety of spinners for lead and mercury, and the results will shock you.
Rubin, an independent lead poisoning prevention advocate, first tested three fidget spinners sent to her by a friend with an XRF instrument. Two were lead-free, but one had very high levels of lead and some mercury. She then disassembled a fidget spinner with LED lights and found both lead and mercury. She found 19,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead and 1,000 ppm of mercury.
These numbers are sobering because scientists consider under 90 ppm of lead to be the safe threshold in children’s toys, according to Rubin. But the paint on the LED light spinner contained 334 ppm of lead and 155 ppm of mercury in one test. The unpainted metal base contained 1,562 ppm of mercury and 2,452 ppm of lead.
Rubin later tested six more fidget spinners and found a $31 from Yomaxer that contained 42,800 ppm of lead. She noted ordinary consumers won’t have access to an XRF instrument, which can cost around $50,000. She recommends avoiding fidget spinners available for purchase and instead making your own, such as a fidget spinner out of LEGOs.
In an email about her results, Rubin said she’s very concerned about the high levels of lead discovered in random testing as the toys are so popular. So far she’s tested 11 fidget spinners in total and found two with exceedingly dangerous levels of lead. You can read more about Rubin’s testing methods here.