Issued By
Cumbria County Council



Father Christmas figurines with excessive lead levels in the paint have been removed from sale, following action by Trading Standards Officers in Cumbria.  The Santas had over twenty times the permitted level of lead in the red paint.

The figures are 18cm / 7½” tall, are painted red and white with black shoes.  Santa’s head is stuck to his body by a combination of glue and a spring, giving him a nodding effect.  Other distinguishing marks include five boxed presents and a ball being held by Santa.  Twenty Father Christmas’s have been sold by the Windermere retailer, but the item has now been withdrawn from sale.

Another toy/gift causing Trading Standards Officers concern is a set of Russian dolls which they bought from a Keswick retailer for £9.99.  The 5-inch wooden doll is one of 5 dolls of ever-decreasing size which fit inside one another.  Tests on the green paint on this doll have revealed high levels of cadmium in the product of over 5 times safety guidelines.

Phil Ashcroft, Head of Trading Standards, said  “It’s impossible for consumers to know what levels of heavy metal are present in paints.  We regularly send items away to the test house, and when we find that the permitted levels have been exceeded, we work with the retailer to remove the items from sale.  We will investigate the original source of both items”.

Anyone who has bought the Father Christmas or the set of Russian dolls should contact their local Trading Standards Office in the first instance.


Notes for Editors:


1.         The Santa retails at about £3.99 (photograph attached).

2.         The set of Russian dolls retails at about £9.99 (photograph attached).

3.         Toy Safety Regulations lay down permitted maximum levels of heavy metal     content.  These are 90mg/kg soluble lead and 75mg/kg cadmium.  The Santa was found to contain lead levels of 1810mg/kg; the Russian dolls 389mg/kg.

4.         Lead is harmful if taken internally; symptoms include digestive disturbances, pallor and anaemia.

5.         Cadmium is a known carcinogen, harmful if ingested, can cause kidney malfunction and can decrease lifespan if taken to excess.

6.          Trading Standards Offices are based at:

13 Earl Street, Carlisle - 01228 607447

74 Abbey Road, Barrow in Furness - 01229 894520

County Offices, Kendal - 01539 773577

Fairfield, Station Road, Cockermouth - 01946 852880

Richmond House, Catherine Street, Whitehaven - 01900 325980

7.         For further information please contact Bill Procter on (01539) 773573 or Patrick Thomas  on (01539) 773591