Posted by Scott Smith on Feb.18, 2009
I have a two-year-old little sister, and I try to buy thoughtful, educational, safe gifts for her. Imagine my disappointment when my parents returned one of my sister’s gifts to me because it contained toxic levels of mercury!
Last Christmas, I gave my sister some books that I fondly remember from my childhood. As an afterthought, I picked up a package of Bath Letters & Numbers to go along with the books. Manufactured by The Little Tikes Company, the foam letters and numbers seemed like a fun, educational gift that would go well with the book collection. I had no idea that these toys contained high levels of mercury, which is toxic to the nervous system and has been linked to kidney damage.
Luckily, before opening the package, my father spotted the Bath Letters & Numbers in a report on toxic toys on Forbes.com.
“When you see these toys sitting on the shelf, there is no way to determine which products are made with toxic chemicals and which aren’t,” Mike Shriberg, policy director of the Ecology Center, told Forbes.com. “They cost the same amount and look the same. It really shows that manufacturers have no excuse for making toys with dangerous chemicals.”
Children’s jewelry is the worst offender. “Toxins were five times as likely to be found in jewelry as any other category of children’s products,” said Shriberg. In February 2006, a four-year-old boy in Minnesota died after accidentally swallowing a heart-shaped toy jewelry locket that contained toxic levels of lead.
After reading the Forbes.com article in shock, I decided to put together this list of the Top 10 Most Toxic Toys, based on test results from the Ecology Center:
10. Bath Letters & Numbers
Manufacturer: The Little Tikes Co.
Mercury PPM: 463
Mercury is toxic to the nervous system and has been linked to kidney damage.
9. Eight Mini Twist-Up Crayons
Manufacturer: Alex Panline USA, Inc.
Mercury PPM: 783
You wouldn’t want these crayons in your child’s hand.
8. Ball Track - Large Basic Set
Manufacturer: Habermaass Corp., Inc.
Cadmium PPM: 981
Cadmium can cause serious damage to the kidneys and lungs.
7. Best Friend Bands (bracelets)
Manufacturer: Alex Panline USA, Inc.
Arsenic PPM: 630
Arsenic has been linked to cancer, blood disorders, and other health problems.
6. High School Musical Crown Necklace
Manufacturer: Disney (F.A.F., Inc.)
Lead PPM: 7,963
Lead has been linked to learning disorders, low IQ scores, and short attention spans. Children’s jewelry is five times more likely to contain harmful levels of lead than other products.
5. Lift-it Luke
Manufacturer: Ravensburger F.X. Schmid USA Inc.
Bromine PPM: 22,634
Bromine is widely used in flame retardants and has been linked to birth defects and reproductive problems.
4. Lightning McQueen Racing Chair
Manufacturer: Disney (Marshmallow)
Bromine PPM: 25,562
Even if your child is Lightning McQueen’s biggest fan, you should throw out this chair.
3. Road Racers With Play Mat
Manufacturer: Wholesale Merchandisers, Inc.
Bromine PPM: 30,831
These toy cars contain levels of bromine 30X higher than what’s considered safe.
2. Hannah Montana’s “2 Hearts and HM graphic Necklace”
Manufacturer: Disney (F&A Inc.)
Lead PPM: 406,510
You won’t see Miley Cyrus wearing this toxic jewelry in real life!
1. Totally Me! Dressy Rainbow Jewelry
Manufacturer: Geoffrey, Inc
Cadmium PPM: 3,269
Arsenic PPM: 1,202
This jewelry ranks among the worst offenders for both cadmium and arsenic.
The Ecology Center tested 1,500 toys in December 2008, and one out of three toys contained potentially harmful levels of toxic chemicals!
Shouldn’t this be against the law or something? Well, in a perfect world…
Actually, things recently got a little better here in our real world: On February 10, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act went into effect. This set limits on arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead, and other toxic chemicals in children’s products. The new legal limit for cadmium is 75 parts per million (PPM); 25 PPM for arsenic; 60 PPM for mercury; and 600 PPM for lead.
Nevertheless, the moral of this story is that you cannot rely on the government to protect your children from toxic toys! You must take full responsibility. Be mindful and cautious when shopping. Consider all potentially harmful aspects of a product. Avoid mass-produced plastic toys, which often contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates. Instead, opt for toys made from natural, eco-friendly materials. What’s good for the planet is also good for your child.
Visit HealthyToys.com to see test results for the 1,500+ toys that were tested by the Ecology Center. GoodGuide.com contains ratings for natural, green, healthy products; the site rates toys based on environmental, social, and health attributes. You can click on a toy to see if it contains toxins, and you can also create a shopping list.
Article By: Scott Smith
Profile: Scott Smith is a freelance writer who's working on his doctorate in natural health. He enjoys reading, playing drums, hiking, camping, bicycling, and tending to his vegetable garden.
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