Jennifer Tschida noticed her infant son chewing on a vinyl dinosaur one day when she picked him up at his day care center.
Because Tschida supervises a lead hazard control unit for the city of Minneapolis, she decided to take the toy to work to have it tested. The toy was contaminated with lead, as were some others she went back to collect.
That's the inspiration for a series of free sessions the city has organized at which parents can have toys tested for lead. Suggested toys include vinyl ones such as dinosaurs, farm and zoo animals, vinyl lunch boxes and backpacks, play foods, children's dishes, rubber ducks, painted wood toys and chewable toys.
Tschida said the test is quick. The sessions will be:
• Oct. 27, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Longfellow Resource Fair, Minnehaha Academy north campus, 3100 W. River Parkway
• Oct. 28, 1-3 p.m., Room 300, Public Service Center, 250 S. 4th St.
• Nov. 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Green Gifts Fair, Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St.
The Longfellow session will have sign-up information for home lead checks.
Tschida said lead contamination is more common in older toys and those made in China.
Although the number of Minneapolis children with elevated lead levels in their blood has been dropping in recent years, 79 more children were identified by testing last year, the city said. Such a finding often triggers an order by the city's Department of Regulatory Services, where Tschida works, to abate the conditions, which often are caused by lead paint in older homes.
Financial assistance is available through Hennepin County.