Lead Tainted Casino Chips – Genuine Health Concern or Hype?

Inorganic lead has been classified by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Class 2a – probable carcinogen to humans. There has been much focus recently on casino chips containing inorganic lead. It is alleged by The California Center for Environmental Health (CEH) that numerous composite casino chips contain lead to provide casino chips with weight. It is a high possibility lead is continuing to be regularly used overseas; since China and Taiwan are the largest outsource manufacturers of casino poker chips, one is left to ponder.

Carcinogens are substances that can cause changes in our DNA that can lead to cancer; not necessarily having a direct effect on DNA, but by cells quickly dividing thus increasing changes in our DNA. Length and concentration of exposure of Carcinogen depends on each person’s genetic makeup and the time and concentration they are exposed.

Gaming Partners International (GPI) (formerly the Paulson Company), recently had their casino chips tested for lead content and the finding had the chips containing 160 times more than the federal lead limit allows for consumer products. In paint for instance, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) federal limit for lead is .06%. Reportedly, GPI’s casino chips contained a marked 10%. GPI offers the widest range of casino products including casino chips to casinos and corners the market worldwide. In Gaming Partners defense they state that since the casino chips that underwent testing and had positive results for lead were probably because those casino chips tested were made years ago. The Company is vehemently stating their products are not unsafe.

Casino Trade Associations are looking into the recent findings and allegations. Casino dealers are of course anxious because they handle casino chips continually as do avid gamblers. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that lead seldom infiltrates the body through the skin but rather when swallowed through eating or drinking or contact with the mouth from the hands. Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (Nevada OSHA, state agency of OSHA, a federal agency that establishes workplace safety standards) stance is that frequent handling of casino chips would not be sufficient to generate a level of dust hazardous to humans. Time along with more casino chip testing will obviously tell, until then everyone will be waiting by bated breath.

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