2009 Consumer Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys

Third Annual Consumer Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys to be Released for 2009 Holiday Shopping Season by HealthyStuff.org

Despite public outrage and new consumer protections to restrict lead and phthalates in children’s products, the Ecology Center’s latest research of popular children’s toys and apparel still found lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, chlorine (PVC), arsenic, and other harmful substances on store shelves. This year’s findings show that lead – which has been linked to developmental and learning disabilities – is still being found in many products. However, an analysis of three years of test data shows the number of toys with elevated lead has been decreasing steadily.

The new data – formerly available at HealthyToys.org – will now be available at www.HealthyStuff.org on Wednesday, December 2, along with a wide variety of other products to help consumers make better choices when shopping for their families. This year shoppers can make a personalized holiday wish list that can be sent to family and friends, grab a blog-friendly widget off of the homepage, use the HealthyToys mobile application, or quickly search for toy rankings via SMS texting in both English and Spanish.

In addition to toys, the 2009 children’s product testing includes children’s shoes, belts, wallets, handbags and backpacks. Babies and young children are the most vulnerable to toxic chemicals since their brains and bodies are still developing and because they commonly put toys and other products into their mouths.

To sample the toys experts used a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer that identifies the elemental composition of materials. This accurate device has been used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to screen packaging; the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to screen food; and many State and County Health Departments to screen for residential lead paint.

In response to the increasing consumer demand for safer products, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representative Bobby Rush are expected to introduce a new bill this Congressional session to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the current federal law for regulating chemicals.

“Recent consumer protections for lead and phthalates in products were a good first step, but we have a long way to go in terms of protecting our children from thousands of other unregulated chemicals in toys and products throughout our economy,” said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center’s Research Director. “The Toxic Substances Control Act needs a major overhaul as soon as possible.”

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