Stanley Cup Maker Sued Over Lead Concerns: How to Protect Yourself From Lead Poisoning

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Social media has been in an absolute frenzy over Stanley Cups. You either love them or you hate them. The people of California seem to hate them because a class action lawsuit was filed in California last week. 

The issue revolves around the use of lead solder in Stanley cups and whether or not that’s a problem, and you should be concerned. Should you throw out your Stanley cups? 

If you’re a mom, pregnant, or concerned about the impacts of lead poisoning or lead exposure, I’m going to walk you through some important facts and share the best ways to avoid lead exposure in your everyday life.

In This Episode:

  • The history of lead in stainless steel

  • Lead Safe Mama

  • Class action lawsuit in California

  • Top ways to avoid lead exposure

The History of Lead in Stainless Steel

If you’ve spent any amount of time on social media recently, I’m sure you have seen Stanley Cups and the idea of lead being inside the solder. Stanley has come out and said they DO use some lead in the solder. It’s a tiny pellet on the inside of the insulation used to seal the insulation. On top of that pellet is stainless steel. It’s the round piece of the bottom of your Stanley. If you were to find a way to remove that cap, there’s a tiny disc on the inside that does have a small amount of lead solder in it. 

For a little bit of perspective… This is how all of the stainless steel industry has made stainless steel bottles for decades. This is how they were made starting around 2016. 

Hydro Flask figured out how to make that seal without lead using their hydro shield technology. The owner of Hydro Flask has said it took five years, many failed attempts, and millions of dollars trying to figure out how to do this without solder that has a little bit of lead in it and to ramp up production. Originally, they were using lead-free solder, and it wasn’t working. It was just falling apart. The insulation wasn’t holding. It was with huge effort that Hydro Flask figured out in 2016, and Klean Kanteen followed shortly after. (as of the day this episode was published, Frank Green, Thermos, Owala, Pura and Iron Flask are making lead free versions).

Lead Safe Mama

All of this came about and hit social media because Lead Safe Mama, who is somebody whose kids had lead poisoning, has made it her passion to expose products out there that have lead in them but are not being identified. She tests products and puts them out on her blog. I completely respect a passionate woman, and I think that this is an important issue.

She’s also very science-minded. I read the report she did on Stanley Cups, and I think it was very reasonable. She explains where the lead is; it’s on the inside, and if that bottom tab falls off, that’s when you can be exposed. Stanley has a lifetime warranty if it comes off; you’re supposed to let them know, and they’ll send you a new one. 

Unfortunately what happened was people took that report and kind of blew it up on social media. It should just be a reasonable, informational, and educational conversation. It should have been a good opportunity to talk about stainless steel water bottles.

Instead what it became was, “Stanley’s are so dangerous.. there’s lead in Stanley. We’re all being poisoned.” 

My feed started getting flooded with people saying to throw away your Stanleys and to cancel Stanley. It became very emotional very quickly, but the piece that was missing was the point that the lead was on the inside bottom of the mug. If that stainless steel lid on the bottom is intact, there is no lead exposure. 

If you notice the little thing fell off, throw it away. But this is not a reason to be terrified and cancel Stanley.

Class Action Lawsuit in California

On February 1, 2024, there was a class action lawsuit filed in the state of California. If this lawsuit moves forward and you are a citizen in California and you purchased a Stanley, you could potentially get the cost of your Stanley back.

These women are alleging false advertising. They’re saying that Stanley marketed themselves as being a rugged company with cups that last for a long time, but that they have admitted even with regular use, the little tab on the bottom could potentially come off. They also marketed themselves as being BPA-free and a healthier alternative to plastic water bottles.

I don’t think they ever hid the fact that there was lead. If you go on Yeti’s website, they have a Q&A section where they admit to using lead in their products. 

The women are saying they hid it on purpose because they didn’t want these millennial moms who loved their Stanley’s to stop buying them. The women filing the lawsuit are accusing Stanley of marketing fraud. 

I will follow the lawsuit closely. You know my feelings… As we always say in our small legal community – You never know in California. I think if this were filed in any other state, it would probably be a non-starter, especially because Stanley can say this is an industry-standard, they’re working on something better, and they never hid it on purpose. Because it’s inside, you aren’t exposed.

I think the lawsuit is a long shot, but I’ve been wrong before. We’ll see what happens!

Lead Poisoning Risk

Pregnant women and children are much more at risk for lead exposure.

Here’s the good news: The way lead is assessed is a measurement of micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. That’s just the standard measurement of lead in blood. In the 1970s, the average blood-lead level of U.S. children ages 1-5 was 15 micrograms per deciliter. The most recent reported measurement I could find covered 2011-2016 and the average went from 15 micrograms down to 0.83 micrograms. Let’s celebrate that significant decrease!

That decrease is attributed to laws that banned lead in paint and gasoline and other prevention efforts. Lead exposure can be a problem anywhere, but research shows it’s a larger problem in poor communities and is concentrated in older cities, like the Northeast and Midwest, where everyone has older homes. In any home built and not remodeled before 1978, there’s a much higher likelihood of lead pipes in the drinking water system and lead paint. Those are the two most common exposures that lead to lead poisoning in children.

Anytime there’s a child with high levels of lead, the most likely culprit still today is older homes. It’s in the drinking water, the pipes, and the paint. While these lead levels have been dropping significantly among American children, the government has also been lowering the standard level that determines whether or not a child has lead exposure that is considered “lead poisoning”. 

The reason for that is because our science is getting better. The standard in 1991 was 10 micrograms per deciliter. If a child had 10 or more micrograms per deciliter, that was enough to determine something was poisoning this child. Then, in 2012, the standard 10 was reduced to 5 micrograms. As of 2021, the standard is now 3.5 micrograms. We have so much data on this topic. 

If your child is exposed to lead at high levels, it can cause:

  • Intellectual, behavioral, and motor function deficits

  • Slowed hand and eye coordination and reaction times

  • ADHD

The FDA and CDC are starting to consider the impact of low levels of lead exposure around 3.5-5 micrograms. Maybe we need to take a look at those kids also and see what we can do.

The higher the level that’s in your blood, the higher the severity of the symptoms. But remember what I said at the very beginning – the average American child has 0.83 micrograms. While that’s below 3.5, we know that no amount of lead is safe. But because lead is naturally occurring, you can’t avoid all exposures. So what can you do?

Top Ways to Avoid Exposure

There is lead in soil and dust, and it can easily get into your home. One of the reasons people say not to wear your shoes in your house is because you can track heavy metals into your home. Now it’s part of the dust particles floating around in your house. 

Next, get a really good quality and NSF-certified water filter. Everybody needs a drinking water filter. There is lead in your water, no matter where you live. Water filters will remove lead and the other things that are bad for you in your drinking water.

There is a group of foods that are more likely to have higher amounts of heavy metals, inlcluding lead.

  • Dark chocolates

  • Plant-based protein powders

  • Spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cassava root flour, and balsamic vinegar

These foods have a higher incidence of heavy metals in them, including lead. You can find companies that do third-party heavy metal testing and that is honestly the only way to avoid lead in the foods you’re consuming. 

Here’s an example: There were multiple different brands of cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches that poisoned hundreds of children with lead. The FDA has been investigating, and they’ve identified where they think the contaminated applesauce came from. It came from cinnamon sticks from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka shipped them to Ecuador, then Ecuador processed them into ground cinnamon and put that ground cinnamon into applesauce. They sold it to multiple companies, which is why multiple brands had them, and then they sold them in the U.S. 

These applesauce pouches aren’t the only ones. There is a lot of food contamination in this country. There are things we can’t control because we live in a world where our supply chain of food comes from other countries that may not have the same protective regulations in place. There aren’t a lot of standards overseas, and frankly, not here as well. You can either freak out that you may have some of this in your food or maybe this is the one place you understand you can’t control. 

The other place you are exposed to lead is glazed ceramic and pottery. Lead is used to make many ceramic glazes – things like your crockpot, ceramic cookware, ceramic glazed plates and bowls, or coffee mugs. Stick to lead-free products. If you’re buying cheaply made overseas products, you might want to consider switching to a higher-quality U.S.-made that is lead free.

Avoid synthetic petroleum dyes and know that some colored minerals can be contaminated with heavy metals. When it comes to cosmetics and what you put on your face, make sure you’re purchasing from a company free of heavy metals. Avoid ingredients like Yellow-5 and Red-6. 

If you have lead paint and piping in an older home, I highly recommend getting a blood test. Take your child to a pediatrician. It’s a super easy test. You can just go get it done, and it can give you a lot of peace of mind. 

This might be controversial, but I do not support or recommend at-home heavy metal detoxes. Some very serious complications can come from it. If you have a child who has very high amounts of lead, their doctor may recommend chelation therapy, but it should be done under the supervision of a doctor. When you’re detoxing heavy metals and pulling them out of your body, very serious detox symptoms can happen. It can cause:

  • Anemia

  • Hypotension

  • Hypoglycemia

  • Heart failure

  • Kidney failure

  • Yes, even death

This is not medical advice. This is just Wendy advice! Never do a heavy metal detox on your own using products that are being sold as binders or from people on the internet. Work with a practitioner or doctor with the background and the experience to do it and supervise it. 

These are some things that can help when high lead levels are detected. Again, NOT MEDICAL ADVICE! Those nutrients can help your body eliminate lead and stop it from being absorbed and getting into your bones and accumulating in your body. 

  • Adding cilantro and chlorella together from a whole food source

  • Vitamin C

  • Calcium 

  • Iron

I hope this episode answered some of your questions about the Stanley Cup controversy and educated you on how to avoid lead exposure as much as you can!

Related Episodes

Episode 26: Detox Your Makeup: My Truly Clean Cosmetics Must-Haves

Episode 39: What to Know About the 4 Food Additives Banned by California

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