Originally published April 11 2008
Protecting Our Children From Toxic Toys
by Jo Hartley
(NaturalNews) Protecting one's children is of utmost important to parents. Unfortunately, it is now necessary to educate ourselves about how to keep our children safe from potentially harmful chemicals in their toys. Parents should be striving to limit their children's exposure to chemicals found in many toys on the market today. One chemical of concern is phthalates. Phthalates is a group of chemicals that is often added to plastic to increase its flexibility.
The phthalates found in some toys are used as a plastic softener for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Sometimes PVC toys are labeled with a V or #3 inside the chasing arrows triangle, which is located on the bottom of a product. Unfortunately, most are not labeled. Typically, if a toy is made of a squishy plastic (think baby dolls) or if it is highly flexible plastic (like the plastic-like "fabric" used for some dolls) you should either avoid it or call the manufacturer to see if the product is made with PVC or phthalates.
There is no comprehensive list of toys manufactured with phthalates that concerned citizens can access. A resource currently available, however, is (www.HealthyToys.org) , which has a searchable database of over 1,200 toys. In addition, MomsRising.org has gone so far as to develop a text messaging system that uses the HealthyToys.org database. Parents as they are shopping can simply text "healthytoys" and the name of a specific toy or a type of toy or a toy manufacturer or retailer to '41411' to find out whether a toy is safe for their children. MomsRising will respond immediately with a message.
In addition to phthalates, lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, bromine, antimony, chromium, tin, xylene, toluene, and bisphenol-A should all be avoided in children's toys.
One mistake parents make is assuming that products must be proven safe before they can be sold and they trust that the government wouldn't allow unsafe toys to be sold. Government regulations are very outdated and ineffective when it comes to the ever-changing world of chemicals and their use in consumer products.
The government does not require companies to disclose the ingredients of their products, or to label them so consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not even have the authority to ensure that US toys are safe. The CPSC cannot legally test children's products before sale and unfortunately they do not have the capacity or funding to do this even if they so desired. Recalls are by-in-large voluntary, and they rarely happen. If they do occur, it is only because damage has been done.
Even if we had tougher regulations in place, there is still the issue of imported toys. Currently, there are only 15 staff people watching hundreds of ports of entry.
The U.S. chemical regulatory system needs revision. Approximately 80,000 chemicals are registered for use in everyday products and approximately 2,500 new ones are introduced each year. Most of these have not been adequately tested for potential health impacts on either children or developing fetuses. This is despite these two groups' known vulnerability to chemicals. No chemicals have been tested for cumulative effects at this time either.
When choosing toys for your children, the best guideline is to buy items made from natural materials. Solid wood that is either unfinished or finished with a non-toxic finish or toys made of organic cotton, hemp, or wool are all good choices.
The good news is that there are many manufacturers who are committed to safe, PVC-free toys. Some of these manufacturers include: Brio, Chicco, Early Start, First Years, Ikea, Lamaze Infant Development, Lego, Little Tykes, Playmobil, Primetime Playthings, Ravensburger, Sassy and Tiny Love.
Companies that are eliminating or reducing PVC products and packaging include Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, and Apple. A comprehensive list of companies may be found at: (http://www.besafenet.com/pvc/companypolicies...) .
About the authorJo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!
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