'Tis the season to us to give and for the children to receive. Unfortunately, our government standards don't seem to protect our children as well as we trust.
The main concern with children's toys are soft PVC plastics. PVC is softened with the help of phthalates which affect *** development and the reproductive system. The most common applications for these toxins are teethers, squeeze toys, beach balls, bath toys and dolls.
Phthalates are able to leach out of these products as they are not bonded to the plastic. This is frightening considering that young children often put toys in their mouths.
The European Union, forever ahead of us Westerners, has banned phthalates in toys. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has merely asked for a voluntary removal of phthalates from products for children under the age of three.
As if phthalates aren't enough, PVC can also contain lead - a better known foe. Lead is responsible for causing a host of problems including learning disabilities and behaviour disorders. The smallest exposure can cause a lifelong effect.
Another big one to watch out for is polymer clay - the colourful stuff that stays soft until you bake it. It's loaded with PVC, but this application is particularly dangerous.
According to research conducted by the Vermont Public Interest Group, Fimo and Sculpey brand polymer clays contain tons of phthalates. While baking the clays, phthalates were found floating through the air for everyone in the kitchen to inhale. After playing with the clay and then washing their hands, children had significant residues of phthalates on their hands.
So what can you do? Choose non-polymer clay over polymer clay. Shop for PVC free toys this holiday season. On the packaging, look for a #3 or the letters “PVC" on the package - often found next to the three arrow recycling symbol. Buy from companies that have gone PVC free like Brio, Lego, Primetime Playthings, Early Start, Sassy and Tiny Love.
Short of that, your stuck with calling the company's 800 number on the box and asking them directly. Maybe we could try sending baby pictures to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Even us Canadians - because our officials tend to follow suit with the Americans.
Ivy Mills has been researching chemical sensitivity and natural alternatives for over five years and has brought her knowledge to the marketplace in her company, Valhalla Essences . Her personal experiences have fed a passion to help others with the same problem. Ivy welcomes others to share their stories and experiences on her blog, Peaceful Power .