Friday, December 7, 2007

Testing Toys for Chemicals

There is a great new website that just launched: A consortium of environmental and health organizations have tested various baby and child toys for toxic chemicals. The spectrum of toys selected for testing seems pretty extensive, but you can also nominate a toy for testing. Each toy is rated for the level of lead, cadmium, chlorine/PVC, arsenic and mercury present; the site also lists the actual measurements of each substance found. The site also notes if other chemicals were found during testing. There seem to be a few technical details that need to be worked out on the site. For example, it appeared to be down for a short period of time today plus I noted at least one discrepancy where the toxicity level (high, medium or low) noted for a particular toy on a listing page was different from the toxicity listed on the detail page for that toy. However, this seems to be an excellent reference point for parents concerned about the toys with which their children are playing. The testing does not screen out all potential dangers. It is stated on the site that:

“ is an initial screening of chemicals in toys for a handful of hazardous chemicals. There are a number of chemicals of concern that the XRF and cannot detect. For example, there has been much concern recently about bisphenol A, a component of polycarbonate plastic. The XRF is not able to detect bisphenol A, nor can it identify polycarbonate. In addition, the XRF cannot detect phthalates, a family of chemicals of concern, although we have used the presence of PVC plastic as a surrogate for the likely presence of phthalates.”

On a side note, I was happy to find that only one of Pumpkin’s toys was listed as having a medium rating (the Fisher-Price Portable Mobile: Ocean Wonders, which I suppose I will now toss out) and none of his toys earned a high rating. Of course, many of his toys were not tested but at least it is start. You can’t protect against everything but at least you can take action regarding the dangers of which you do know.

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