Two leading producers of children's bounce houses have agreed to strictly reduce lead in their products under a settlement reached Wednesday in an Oakland courthouse.
The agreement followed a lawsuit filed in August by the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland and the California attorney general against 13 manufacturers of bounce houses, and two firms that produce vinyl used to make them. The suit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court.
Settlements with the remaining defendants will be handled "on a case-by-case basis," predicted Charles Margulis, spokesman for the environmental group.
Ninja Jump and Einflatables, both based in Southern California, agreed to limit the lead in their bounce houses to 100 parts per million, or ppm, which is lower than the federal limit of 300 ppm for most children's products.
"With the level this low, there's virtually no chance a child will be exposed to lead," Margulis said.
Ninja Jump and Einflatables also agreed to jointly pay $12,500 for compliance testing.
Using X-ray fluorescence analyzers and simple wipe tests, researchers at the Center for Environmental Health last year tested the lead content of dozens of bounce houses, the popular inflatable structures that keep kids entertained for hours at fairs, parties and other events.
They found that some of the products sold by Ninja Jump and Einflatables contained 120 times the new limit.
The 11 other manufacturers named in the suit also sold some bounce houses with lead levels in excess of federal limits.
The two vinyl manufacturers included in the suit, Seattle Textile Company and Naizil Inc., marketed their vinyl as lead-free, but testing found high levels in their products.
Lead enters the body through inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption. Children are particularly susceptible to adverse health effects from lead, which can harm mental and physical growth.
A call to Naizil seeking comment on the lawsuit wasn't returned.
Margulis said Ninja Jump and Einflatables sell about half of the bounce houses on the market.
Nonetheless, while the two companies agreed to immediate compliance with the new lead levels, and to offer clients testing and replacement of or discounts on lead-tainted bounce houses, many with excess lead could be in use, Margulis warned.
"Obviously, bounce houses out there now can still be a problem," he said.
Margulis said parents and caretakers can take precautions by washing children's faces and hands after using a bounce house, and changing their clothing.
Suzanne Bohan covers science. Contact her at 510-262-2789. Follow her at Twitter.com/suzbohan.