HealthyToys.org has just released it’s 2nd Annual Toy Guide after testing over 1,500 toys for levels of harmful chemicals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, and PVC. According to a recent press release, their findings indicate that one in three toys tested contain significant levels of toxic chemicals including lead, flame retardants, and arsenic. In fact some of these toys will be illegal to sell come February 2009. According to the HealthyToys.org website, “Because children’s bodies are growing and developing, they are more vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals. Even small amounts of a chemical can impact a child’s ability to reach his or her full potential. Children are exposed to toxic chemicals from many sources in addition to toys, and the combination of these many exposures may cause harm.” As such, it’s important to be aware of the use of potentially harmful chemicals in some toys. Unfortunately government entities such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Environmental Protection Agency don’t require safety testing of all chemicals, testing only for 200 of 62,000 chemicals in commerce since 1979. Using the HealthyToys.org website, you can search their database of toys by brand name or type of toy. They also offer an option to submit a request for a toy to be tested if you can’t find it on their website. This information is especially helpful during this Holiday season, allowing you to check a toy for safety before purchasing.
Children’s jewelry is one of the worst offenders in terms of toxicity, and parents should be especially careful when purchasing this type of product. I just bought a necklace and bracelet set made with water-based non toxic paints for my 4 year old from Oompa Toys. The set is made by HABA, one of the European brands carried by Oompa Toys. My daughter loves jewelry and by purchasing a HABA product I’m confident that it is safe for my daughter due to their high safety standards (European safety standards for toys currently exceed the United States). Oompa Toys is also a great place to shop if you’re looking for more naturally sourced toys without blinking lights and annoying sounds (especially after 20+ replays!).
Another useful guide when looking for kid’s products, courtesy of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, is the “Pass up the Poison Plastic – The PVC-free Guide for Your Family and Home” . This guide provides a list of products in 80 product categories along with stores that are known to avoid PVC-containing products, such as IKEA.
Also if you want to know if a product contains PVC, look for the number 3 in the center of the recycle symbol or the letter “V”. PVC containing products also usually have a distinct odor, such as vinyl shower curtains.
Luckily the information about toy toxicity is more readily available than in the past, however we still have a long way to go before the potentially toxic toys are completely eliminated! This can only be achieved by taking action. You can do your part by only supporting toy manufacturers who avoid the known toxins and by writing your state representative to request stricter standards.
Please share any links to safe toys by leaving a comment!