Originally posted on Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Electronic toys in fast food children’s meals may contain lead levels high enough to contaminate landfills, according to a scientific analysis by a team of Robert Morris University environmental science students and professors.
The study, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences, calls electronic fast food toys a “previously unreported and significant source of...lead and chromium to the environment.” It recommends the toys be treated as electronic waste and disposed of appropriately.
Begun as a senior research project by students Andrew Lorenzi and Benjamin Mentzer, the RMU study looked at 35 electronic toys that McDonald’s and Burger King distributed between 1997 and 2015. A total of 22 of the toys — the most recent a McDonald’s “Minions” toy from 2013 — contained lead in concentrations above permitted federal limits, high enough to classify them as hazardous waste.
“With these toys, the small amount of leached material doesn’t seem like much until you realize the vast number of them that are out there,” said RMU environmental science professor Daniel Short, the study’s lead author, in a press release.
The study noted that more than 220 million Happy Meals are sold annually.