Dangerous levels of lead in toys is just the beginning according to a group of advocates that found many of the toys they tested had high levels of other toxic chemicals, such as arsenic and cadmium.
The Coalition for a Safe and Healthy CT, along with the CT Citizen Action Group tested 1,200 popular children’s toys for toxic chemicals and released the results at www.healthytoys.org. The group tested the toys for arsenic, cadmium, PVC, lead, mercury, bromine, chromium, tin and antimony—chemicals that have all been linked to health problems and have been subject to either regulatory restrictions or voluntary limits set by industry associations or third party environmental organizations.
The good news is that 28 percent of the products did not contain any lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury or PVC, including many made in China. The bad news is 35 percent tested positive for lead, 47 percent were made of PVC, and 22 out of 764 tested positive for cadmium.
While the dangers of lead have been well-publicized the threats of PVC and cadmium have received little press. According to the CCAG press release, PVC is dangerous because phthalates, which are chemicals commonly added to PVC to make it soft and flexible, can leach out of the plastic. Exposure to phthalates is linked to birth defects of the genitals and altered levels of reproductive hormones in baby boys. Cadmium is a heavy metal used in coatings and pigments in plastic and paint. It is a known carcinogen and exposure can cause adverse effects on the kidneys, lungs, liver, and testes.
There are no federal regulations or mandatory restrictions on PVC and cadmium in children’s products.
With millions of toys on the market it was impossible to test them all, but visitors to HealthyToys.org can nominate other products to be tested. The most commonly requested items will be tested each week leading up to the Holidays.