Posted by: Chloe Schwabe | December 20, 2010

Toxic Toys roundup

It has been a cold few weeks in the nation’s capitol. After all the frigid weather and occasional flurries, it was nice to finally have a good snow fall last week, some of which is still on the ground. I am also enjoying the lights in the windows and the first ever public Christmas tree in my neighborhood this year. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

With Christmas a week away, I am still on the quest for those gifts that I wasn’t able to make (yet again) this year. In particular, I need to get something for my 1.5 year old nephew. Two reports that came out recently by the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ) and the US Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) have given me more things to consider as I look at my list and check it twice. The basic message is that there are still toxic chemicals in our toys.

The CHEJ report looked at Toys R’ Us and found that many toys still contain PVC even after the company committed to reducing the stock of toys that contain PVC. They found that toys also contain lead, cadmium or organotins (or basically tin) as PVC stabilizers. These are all neurotoxins that can affect a child’s mental development.

The USPIRG report found that toys still contain some lead, including some with levels higher than the current standards of safety. Some toys also contain phthalates (a chemical linked to early puberty in girls, type II diabetes, asthma, and cancer) used to make plastics bendable, especially in PVC. Supposedly Congress addressed these chemicals in children’s products two years ago but not all companies are complying with the law. The study also looked at what toys still may pose a choking hazards.

Toxic chemicals in toys are just one source of chemical exposures for children. Carpets, couches, electronics, and cleaning products are other sources of chemical exposure around the house.

“Why are these chemicals allowed in products that children may come into contact with?” you might ask. Well, if you have been following some of my other blog posts, you know that unfortunately there is very weak regulation of chemicals in commerce. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), only 200 of the close to 84,000 chemicals on the market have been tested for safety. Basically chemicals are considered innocent until proven guilty. The EPA also has a hard time accessing data to make safety determinations due to confidential business information clauses. 

My Christmas wish for 2010 is for parents and Santa Claus to be able to give their children toys in 2011 that don’t contain chemicals that can harm their health. I hope you will work with me to make this happen in 2011.

For more on toxic toys, check out our toxic toys website and the Healthystuff.org website. Ask your legislators to protect children’s health in 2011 here.

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