Lead is the best know way to get pigment to keep the color rich and long lasting. Red, yellow, and white are especially short lived colors.
There are non-lead alternatives, but they’re more expensive — not hugely mind you — but cheaper. The manufacturing done in china is even more bottom line conscious than that done in the USA. So they use leaded paint in some applications. It’s not just toys either, it’s in LOTS of the things that you buy that have China stamped on it.
Lead is also a very cheap malleable material that can be used for a lot of applications. Since its so cheap, people tend to use it for products where other materials would have been safer to use.
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