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According to reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology, over 5000 children’s products contain toxic chemicals that are linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive problems. The Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States performed an analysis of the reports and found that several major companies that manufacture kids’ products are using a total of 41 chemicals identified by Ecology as a concern for children’s health. Some of these problematic chemicals include toxic metals such as cadmium, mercury, and antimony, plus organic compounds such as phthalates. Walmart, Gap, Gymboree, Hallmark and H & M are just some of the companies who admit they use these chemicals in various products marketed specifically to children and adolescents. The report notes that the toxic products include items such as children’s clothing and footwear, personal care products, baby products, toys, car seats, and arts and craft supplies. Some specific products containing harmful chemicals include:
- Hallmark party hats which contain cancer-causing arsenic.
- Graco car seats which contain a toxic flame retardant TBBPA (tetrabromobisphenol A).
- Claire’s cosmetics which contain cancer-causing formaldehyde.
- Walmart dolls which contain hormone-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA).
Erika Schreder, science director for the Washington Toxics Coalition notes, “The data shows store shelves remain full of toxic chemicals that we know are a concern for children’s health. These reports are critical for understanding the presence of toxic chemicals in our homes and the marketplace.”
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Overall the new report reveals some alarming facts, including:
- More than 5,000 products reported contain at least one chemical that’s included on Washington State’s list of 66 Chemicals of High Concern to Children.
- Toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, cobalt, antimony, and molybdenum were often reported in children’s products, but cobalt was most often reported.
- Phthalates, already known to be harmful were reportedly used in a slew of products ranging from clothing and toys to bedding and baby products.
- Walmart reported that a total of 459 different products they sell contain harmful chemicals, including arsenic, cadmium, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and mercury.
The silver lining is, now companies must submit chemical reports due to policies under Washington State’s Children’s Safe Products Act of 2008. Thanks to the Act, companies in Washington have to admit when they use toxic chemicals in their products. The bad news is that the rest of the country is not so lucky, as Washington State is the first state to implement such a comprehensive chemical reporting program. That said, Washington should serve as a model example for other states. Additionally, although companies must now report their chemical use in Washington, it’s obviously not ensuring that they cut back on chemicals, especially when you consider that this new report shows that thousands of children’s products currently contain toxic chemicals. This seriously underscores the need for stronger regulations at the state and national level.
How you can get involved:
- The Mind the Store campaign, created by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, is asking the nation’s top ten retailers including Walmart, Target, Costco, Lowe’s, CVS, Walgreens, Best Buy, Kroger, Safeway, and Home Depot to get tough on toxic chemicals in consumer products, and you can get involved by heading to the Mind the Store site.
- Find out how your state is dealing with toxic chemicals.
- Join the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign in order to show support for the Safe Chemicals Act which aims to protect families from toxic chemicals.