Child reaches for brass knob on Mickey Mouse's radio at Disneyland in Anaheim. A wipe test conducted by the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation found that touching the knob could expose a person to 18 micrograms of lead, 34 times greater than the maximum limit under California law, according to the group's study.
Drinking fountains, brass knobs and railings at popular Disneyland attractions expose parents and children to what one environmental group calls “blazingly hot” levels of lead, according to independent tests performed by the group.
The Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation is seeking a court injunction to force Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. Inc., which operates Disneyland, to cover the lead-containing items or post signs to warn people of the health risks of lead exposure.
"If a kid is going to get micrograms of lead on his hand and he goes to get an ice cream cone, guess what’s going to happen to that ice cream cone?” said Mateel CEO William Verick.
Mateel, which is based in Humboldt County, held a news conference outside of Disneyland’s main gate Tuesday. The group has encouraged visitors to the park to keep their hands off stained glass windows and brass items.
Consumers, according to California law, must be warned when businesses expose them to excessive levels of lead, which is defined as more than 0.5 micrograms of lead exposure per day under California Proposition 65.
Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation found much higher levels of lead exposure, in one case 700 times the state standard, by testing dozens of items at Disneyland and California Adventure theme park between June and December 2010 as shown in this video.
An investigator hired by Mateel performed “wipe tests,” which measure the amount of lead someone is exposed to when touching a lead-containing item.
When he tested a stained glass window in the Village Haus restaurant dining area, the result was 350 micrograms of lead, which according to Mateel, is 700 times the California limit.
Drinking fountains with brass bowls at Pinocchio Plaza contain lead exposure levels five times the state limit, according to the report.
The brass grip on the “Sword in the Stone,” one of Disneyland’s most popular picture-taking attractions, tested at 19 times the California limit, according to the test results.
The test also found hand lead exposure at the Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan Ride at 1 microgram and 9.75 micrograms, according to Verick.
So far, Verick said, Disneyland has not posted any warning signs as required by California law, and as requested in Mateel’s court injuction.
A Disney spokeswoman called the claims "baseless."
Disneyland "fully complies with Proposition 65 and has always has been committed to providing a safe environment for all its guests," said Suzi Brown in a short statement.
Verick said the park fails to inform visitors of the risk.
“We saw signs in some eating areas that said consuming certain kinds of food, like fish, would expose them to mercury,” Verick said. “But that’s it.”
Verick expressed surprise that the park has not been more willing to comply with his group's requests.
“I was expecting [Disney] would do the right thing,” he said. “I mean, they are exposing kids to lead.”
Mateel's court injuction was being filed just a few days before National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which aims at educating the public about lead exposure risks, which include harm to the nervous and reproductive systems, cognitive and behavorial changes and increase risk for certain cancers.
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