String Lights: Buy and use ones that are lead-free!

holidays Dec 01, 2015

I've always wanted to tap into the collective wisdom of others who have discovered practical tips for more nontoxic living. On this blog, I will occasionally spotlight a practical tip that others have shared with me so that we can learn from each other. 

As the holidays approach, I'm spotlighting a lovely, smart, and thoughtful woman named Jessica, who I met +7 years ago. Knowing that I was studying how to reduce toxic exposures at home, Jessica emailed me years ago to ask about lead-free string lights. Busy with completing my book, A to Z of D-Toxing, I didn't feel comfortable with the limited research that I had done on finding holiday lights without lead. Jessica explored this in more depth. Below is a Q&A with Jessica on what she learned about lead-free string lights and what solutions she adopted.

Nontoxic tip from mother of two, Jessica.

Q: Where do you live?

A: We live in Brickell Key, Miami.

Q: How many children do you have now?

A: I have 2 boys, ages 4 and 2.

Q: How did you learn about lead in some holiday lights?

A: When my oldest was a baby, I started doing research about the toxins in decorations. Because of my research about chemicals in other areas, I feared Christmas decorations would have high levels of toxins. I wanted to eliminate them being that my baby could be mouthing them. I was surprised to come across numerous articles about lead in Christmas lights. Honestly the thought had not crossed my mind but it made sense. Christmas light wires are coated in PVC (polyvinyl chloride) in order to protect from the wires used in lights. The PVC used has high levels of lead. Through heat and sunlight, this lead is made into a dust that fills the air and is tracked around your home.

Q: What solutions did you adopt?

A: For the past 2 years we have opted out of lights but this year IKEA has lead-free light options. IKEA has stricter standards and chemical requirements because they are based on the EU RoHS. We are excited to have lights in our home this year and I feel safe about my children being around the tree. Environmental Lights also offers lead free light options as well.

More about Jessica

I know Jessica as a loving mother, dedicated to providing her family with the very best. In her journey, she discovered and became a fan of Ava Anderson non toxic products, which Jessica finds safe for her and her family. She also wants to support Ava Anderson because the company takes a stance against threatening chemicals in our personal care products. Jessica joined the Ava Anderson team to help inform others of the potential harm of chemicals in personal care products to our bodies and our environment. If you'd like to reach out and learn more, you can email Jessica at [email protected].

More on IKEA

While several bloggers reported responses from IKEA that confirmed its strict standards with lead, I wanted to confirm and inquire about cadmium, which can be a lead substitute. Here is the response: "All of the items we carry would have strict standards in regards to lead and cadmium. These would not be added in our items." 

More holiday tips

You can find more of my holiday tips in Green Child Magazine. If you have holiday tips for lower toxic living, please share them in the Comments section below.


Please note that discussion of any products or brands is not necessarily an endorsement.

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About Ruan Living

Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


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