Green Right Now Reports
Illinois’ PIRG, a non-profit public interest group, released results of recent testing for toxic chemicals on toys this week, finding that three items intended for children exceeded current safety standards, and two products contact phthalates in violation of federal law.
The tested toys and products can be seen at HealthyToys.org, where they will be incorporated into a much larger list. Researchers at HealthyToys.org are readying a long list of items that will be available on Dec. 2, in time for the winter holidays.
“After the wave of record recalls of dangerous toys just two years ago, we’re glad to see that most of the toys we tested are in compliance with the law,” said Brian Imus, director of Illinois PIRG and an author of the report. “But not all toys are safe and we must do more to prevent toxic toys from ending up on store shelves.”
For more specifics, the PIRG referred people to the list at HealthyStuff.org.
HealthyStuff.org research director Jeff Gearhart said that it was “disappointing” that the early testing still found “significant problems in jewelry.”
Based on that, he said the group would maintain its standing cautionary position on kids costume jewelry, which has been found to contain lead in previous studies, as did two pieces vetted in this latest round of tests. HealthyStuff advises parents to forego the glitzy, inexpensive jewelry, for now.
But, he added, “the initial snapshot (of toys tested in Illinois) shows we’re seeing some overall improvement in toys this year, and we’ll know more once we get a larger sample.”
For the past three years, the group has tested thousands of toys, typically more than 700 before the holidays.
On the preview list of 87 toys released by the PIRG, at least three toys exceed the safe and allowable level of lead, which is set at 300 parts per million, down from the previously allowed 600 parts per million. (Pictures of the toys were not available.)
Two of the offending items are sold at Claire’s, a costume jewelry store that targets tweens and teens
The first is a Halloween item described as a LOVE Pink Block cell phone accessory. The other is a pair of clip-on dangling “diamond” earrings that registered a high reading of lead of 26,692 parts per million.
Another item that tested above safe limits for lead is a toy car by Marvel Hot Rodz with a Spiderman head that tests showed contained more than six times the allowable levels.
Lead exposure has long been known to cause health problems in developing children, even causing cognitive issues. HealthyStuff.org, however, warns that just because a chemical is detected in a toy, doesn’t mean there’s been direct exposure to it. For more info on why HealthyStuff tests for certain chemicals and how they can affect childrens’ bodies when there is direct contact, see the Chemicals of Concern introduction on their website.
In a news release, PIRG also called out the problem of products that contain phthalates, which turn up in plastics and cosmetics are known to cause “a wide array of harm to the human body; from reproductive defects in men and women, premature birth, early onset puberty for young girls, and lower sperm counts in men.”
However, because HealthyStuff.org does not list phthalates among the toxic components it tests for, people cannot currently reference these products.
The Illinois PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), part of a federation of PIRGs nationally, called for better regulation to catch violators before they make it to market.
The good news? Most of the toys tested are being rated as having a “low” level of hazardous chemical content.