ABC4 Utah investigates jelly shoe lead claims

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - (ABC4 Utah)They are popular, cheap, and fashionable: jelly shoes. There have been all kinds of misconceptions, rumors, and information spread on social media about possible lead in jelly shoes. It's hard to know what to believe, and are they safe?

2-year-old Skyler Paskett loves her jelly shoes. They are very popular, and are very affordable at Walmart stores.

Mike Paskett is an employee at ABC 4 Utah. He and his wife, Laura, never thought twice about buying jelly shoes for their children. That is, until blistering postings began popping up on social media about possible lead in these plastic shoes.   

 

“Yeah, for me, I heard the story and the first thing I was asking was ‘are these really dangerous?’” says Mike.

 

Kelly Pruitt, from Tennessee, says her grandaughter tested positive for high levels of lead in her blood at her 9 month checkup back in July.

 

“The doctor wanted to ask ‘Is she wearing jelly shoes from Walmart?’ I thought that was the weirdest question. And thought for a second, and said, ‘yes.’” explains Pruitt.

 

Her Facebook posting of the doctor's visit went viral. There are other postings on the web as well, some of them even saying they know it's probably not true, but have no other explanation for the lead in their children's bloodstreams.

 

“I have nothing against Walmart, my cousin asked me if he could share it,” says Pruitt, “I had a lot of people say the same thing happened to them, but a lot of crazies called me names. If it helped one child that's the only reason why I did it."

 

ABC Utah 4 News decided to test the claims. We took three pairs of jelly shoes from Walmart to ALS Environmental in Salt Lake for testing. The infant pair had no lead, and the toddler shoes had the highest amount of lead with 37.2 parts per million. The larger jelly shoes tested had 14.9 parts per million. All of these shoes tested in an acceptable range. Things like toys and other children’s products can contain up to 100 parts per million of lead.

Dr. Richard Ingebretsen is a scientist and medical doctor at the University of Utah, and he says lead is everywhere, to be cautious, but that you don’t need to be frightened.

“I want to dispel the myth that [lead] is absorbed through the skin. You have to breathe it in or swallow it,” explains Ingebretsen,

Dr. Ingebretsen says wearing the shoes isn’t dangerous.

“Wearing shoes that have some lead in them is not going to dangerous. What could potentially happen is your feet could wear part of that shoe off, and then you have little flakes of shoe material that has a little bit of lead in it, and that could be kicked up and you could breathe it in potentially. It's very minor though, it's something that I wouldn't worry too much about,” says Dr. Ingebretsen.

Kelly Pruitt says she just hopes they’re safe for children, and that she’s not taking any chances.

“If there's a small possibility it was from those shoes, I’m not taking that chance,” says Pruitt.

The Pasketts decided to not throw the shoes away, but have been more cautious.

“Just be mindful, be mindful of them. Keep them cleaner, keep them out of her mouth,” says Laura.

 

ABC 4 Utah contacted Walmart and they released this statement:

“Walmart takes product safety seriously. all products in question were tested before being placed on our shelves, and we initiated over 200 additional tests in the past month to further confirm the safety of the shoes. All tests once again have shown these shoes are safe and meet applicable standards.”

 

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