5,000 Children’s Products Contain Toxic or Dangerous Ingredients

Tuesday, May 07, 2013
(photo: rainorshineshop, Etsy)

Thousands of products used by children contain toxic chemicals that can cause serious health problems, according to a public advocacy group in Washington State.


The Washington Toxics Coalition, with the support of Safer States, found more than 5,000 children’s products that had toxic metals such as cadmium, mercury and antimony, as well as organic compounds like phthalates, that are included on the state’s list of 66 Chemicals of High Concern to Children.


Exposure to these chemicals can result in cancer, hormone disruption and reproductive problems, the group said in a newly released report.


It also cited large U.S. companies that have used the chemicals in their products, including Walmart, Gap, Gymboree, Hallmark, and H & M. Among the actual products were Hallmark’s party hats, which contain arsenic; Walmart dolls with bisphenol A; and Claire’s cosmetics containing cancer-causing formaldehyde.


The most common toxic chemicals were cobalt and cobalt compounds (1,228 products), ethylene glycol (1,066 products), and antimony and antimony compounds (525 products) and methyl ethyl ketone (469 products). Cobalt is used in plastic building blocks and baby bibs; ethylene glycol in dolls; antimony in high chairs and booster seats; and methyl ethyl ketone in clothing.


According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traces of cobalt have been found in the urine of nearly all children in the United States.


“The data shows store shelves remain full of toxic chemicals that we know are a concern for children’s health,” Erika Schreder, science director for the Washington Toxics Coalition, said in a prepared statement. “These reports are critical for understanding the presence of toxic chemicals in our homes and the marketplace.”


Schreder’s organization pointed out that the Washington legislature failed to adopt a bill last month that would have required manufacturers to stop using toxic flame retardants in children’s products and to identify safer ways to make their products. HB 1294, the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act, died in the face of opposition from the American Chemistry Council, Walmart, and the Association of Washington Business.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Children’s Product Makers Report Over 5000 Products Contain Toxic Chemicals Of Concern To Kids’ Health (Washington Toxics Coalition)

Chemicals Revealed (by Nancy Uding and Erika Schreder, Washington Toxics Coalition) (pdf)

'Chemicals of High Concern' Found in Thousands of Children's Products (by Jane Kay, Environmental Health News)


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