OnEarth’s Susan Cosier was upset to find that the Christmas lights her kid had been playing with were covered in toxic lead:

Sure, I’m aware that our everyday environment is full of toxic chemicals … But on Christmas lights? Really?

Yup, really, it turns out:

[L]ead is applied to the polyvinylchloride (PVC) wire covering to keep the plastic from cracking. It’s also a flame retardant. Not all brands are suspect, but an awful lot are. In a 2008 study published in the Journal of Environmental Health, researchers from Cornell University tested 10 light sets and found lead on all of them, at levels that surpassed the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for windowsills and floors.

We’re just going to go out on a fir-tree-limb here and say that, just because a mass-manufactured product is meant for a holiday associated with joy and goodwill towards fellow men (and maybe even women), that doesn’t mean it’s magically free of all the normal problems with mass-manufactured goods. But it still sort of sucks that the world’s not a better place, where twinkling lights are relatively free of lead.

But according to Cosier, that place does exist. It’s called Europe.