As a parent the recent repeated news of lead paint contamination in children's products terrifies me. As a consumer I wish I had more options to purchase safe products made domestically for my child. However, economic and social factors (namely our thirst for lots of cheap "stuff") have made that nearly impossible. So what is a parent to do?
In my opinion, the first thing to do is to consume consciously. Buy less and seek out products that promote high standards. My family has been blessed to have been given a few Haba wooden toys manufactured in Germany, which I hope has higher safety standards as a fully developed nation. These types of toys can be more difficult to find and more expensive; however, I am a firm believer in buying fewer higher quality items (this can be applied to almost any consumer good).
Even if you are already a conscience consumer, your child (like mine) probably has also been given many plastic or metal toys manufactured in China and other developing nations. For these toys, you can check the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's website at http://www.cpsc.gov/ for recent recalls. You can also purchase an at home lead testing kit at your local hardware store or on-line. I have decided to try LeadCheck Swabs for their ease of use.
As for the contaminated toys, I am at a real loss as to what to do and would love to know of recycling options (please share your comments). I hate to see the toys end up in a landfill and donating them clearly is unethical.