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Poker News | World Poker News

Toxic Poker Chips?

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The list of possible dangers associated with playing poker live, just grew by one. You may escape the game being raided, or held up at gunpoint, but how do you avoid touching your chips?

Arizona health officials issued a warning on November 8th about poker chips that they believe contain high levels of lead. The popular chips are manufactured by Paulson, one of the biggest names in casino chip makers, and used in home games and casinos around the world.

The warning was issued after ABC affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix ran a story about the possible high levels of lead found in the chips. The TV station sent 200 of the Paulson chips to a private laboratory to be tested, where the swab tests showed that all of the chips contained high surface lead levels. The lead levels found far exceed the EPA limit of 0.06 percent. More than half of the chips tested were over the 10 percent swab test limit. That means the lead levels are more than 160 times the federal limit. More in depth tests were performed on 40 of the lead positive chips, with the lowest limit of contamination found to be four times the EPA limit. One of the chips tested came from an unnamed "popular Vegas casino" and was found to contain an amazing 45 percent total lead.

Diane Eckles, the head of the AZ Department of Health Services' environmental health office, wrote a letter to the EPA in which she stated, "We are bringing this to your attention because of the potential exposure to the most vulnerable population, the children of families that currently have this product in their homes. There is also a potential for the dealers to expose their families, specifically children, to this lead hazard."

Las Vegas based Gaming Partners International Corp., which makes and distributes the Paulson casino chips, has issued a statement from their CEO Gerard Charlier in which he stated, "Although testing has proven the existence of lead in the chips, the mere presence of lead is not sufficient to prove there is a health risk."

Charlier also verbally objected to the implication that the chips could pose a health hazard when they are used as designed. He also added, "In fact, independent testing has also demonstrated that the simple handling of these chips would not produce any risk of health concerns to the consumer nor to the environment." Charlier's statement also said the chips had been reformulated, and the new chips contain lead levels well below the applicable safety standards.

Arizona health services official Will Humble is the former head of the state's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. When he was shown the test results by KNXV-TV, he said he was shocked. "If you were to take chips like these and spread them out, 1,000 of them on the ground, essentially it would be a federal Superfund site. That's how much lead is in these things. I've been doing this for many, many years and seldom do we come across products that contain this much lead that are in people's homes."

Paulson poker chips have been an industry standard for many years. The name Paulson was sold to Gaming Partners International Corp. when the founder of Paulson passed away. After awhile, the family decided to get back into the poker chip business, but they were not allowed to use the Paulson name. The Paulson heirs started a new company they named The Blue Chip Company. The Blue Chip Company produces custom chips for many Las Vegas casinos, but their chips were not included in the health warning.

This latest news brings a whole new meaning to the poker phrase "Poison Paws!" which is a term often used, by a losing player, to describe a dealer.

If lead poisoning worries you, now you have another good reason to play online. Check out the online poker rooms offered by PokerWorks. Not only will you get some great sign up bonuses, but there are no lead chips to handle!

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