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Trouble in Toyland Report Finds Lead and Phthalates

By Meredith Salmi-Bydalek, The Arc Greater Twin Cities

Trouble-in-toyland_20111122152529_320_240Shopping during the holiday season can definitely be stressful, and nowadays parents are often left with the challenge of not only finding the perfect gift, but also navigating through a sea of unregulated toxic toys to get there.

Unfortunately, a recent report by the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) Education Fund reiterates that we still need to be extra cautious when picking out toys off the shelf.

The annual Trouble in Toyland report investigates safety of toys currently on the market. Researchers visited national toy stores, malls and dollar stores looking for toys that could pose a potential risk to young children, from exposure to toxic chemicals to choking hazards. Despite recent efforts to limit the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products, what researchers found might surprise you.

What did they find?

Though banned since 1978 in products marketed to children, lead, a known neurotoxin affecting children’s development, can still be found in imported toys. From October 2010 through November 2011, almost 200,000 toys were recalled in the United States due to lead content that exceeded federal limits. Researchers found that a handful of toys investigated exceeded current federal limits and several others exceeded standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Phthalates were also found to be used in alarming rates in toys. Phthalates are additives used to improve the flexibility of products including toys. Exposure to phthalates in the womb or during development has been linked to reproductive harm. The current federal standards sets the maximum amount of three different phthalates at 1,000 parts per million (ppm). Researchers found toys that had 42,000 ppm and 77,000 ppm of various phthalates.

How you can avoid troublesome toys:

Even though dangerous chemicals still exist in some children’s toys, your holiday season doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. The report also releases these tips so that you can be a discerning consumer.

Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to completely avoid toxics in consumer products until Congress passes the Safe Chemicals Act, legislation that will require chemical manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are safe before they end up on store shelves. So give the gift that keeps on giving and take action to support the Safe Chemicals Act today!


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