It is quite frustrating to find lead-free, RoHS compliant Christmas lights in the United States.
The RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) symbol aims to restrict certain dangerous substances commonly used in electronics and electronic equipment. This symbol bans the placing (in the European Union market) of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.
Although RoHS compliant electronics still may contain a very small amounts of lead, the maximum levels can not be more than 1000 ppm. Lead and PVC is used in power cords because it makes the plastic more flexible so it doesn’t fray or break, to avoid risk of electrocution.
While it is easy to find RoHS compliant Christmas lights in Europe, it is almost impossible to find them clearly labeled in the US. I have contacted a few manufacturers and sellers in the US but the ones who got back to me don’t know what RoHS is and the others did not reply.
Most cords in the US may contain high amounts of lead, so you ALWAYS WANT TO KEEP THEM AWAY FROM CHILDREN! If you live in California, you will see that product manuals for your computer, TV, lamp etc. have the following warning: “Handling the power cord on this product will expose you to lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. WASH HANDS AFTER HANDLING.” As far as I know, California is the only state that requires the warning label!
Here are some guidelines on how to properly handle Christmas lights and cords:
- Wear gloves and only let adults handle.
- Keep all lights at a high enough level that curious toddlers cannot reach.
- Wash hands after touching any Christmas lighting.
- Be extra careful when you are out at relatives/friends houses. They may have lots of interesting lights in reach for your curious baby.
- If you can’t hide power cords from children, you can wrap cords in cotton cloth.
Who is Selling RoHS-Compliant Christmas Lights?
Swedish Furnishings Store IKEA is! Ikea was my last hope and I am happy to hear they comply with even stricter requirements then EU RoHS.
To my question: “I was wondering if you know if the Christmas lights sold in the US by Ikea are ROHS compliant.”
Ikea’s response was: “Yes, IKEAs chemical requirements on electrical and electronic articles is based on EU RoHS and other countries’ chemical requirements, meaning our articles comply with even stricter requirements then EU RoHS.”
Another source is Environmental Lights.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published Nov. 12, 2010 by SafBaby’s Co-Founder, Sandra Blum and has been updated for accuracy.