Healthy Toys Website Helps Parents Avoid Toxic Toys

December 6, 2007 · Print This Article · Email This Post

Amazing Animal Toys, Fisher-PriceJust in time for Christmas, a website developed by The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan has come up with a user-friendly searchable data base where shoppers can input the names of toys to find out what, if any, chemicals or toxins such as arsenic, lead, mercury or PVC are in contemplated Christmas purchases. The easy-to-use data base at Tracey Easthope of The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan “The government is not testing for toxic chemicals in toys, and too many manufacturers are not self-regulating, so we created the nation’s first toy database to help inform and empower consumers. . .Ultimately, consumers need to compel the federal government and toy manufacturers to eliminate dangerous chemicals from toys,” said Tracey Easthope, MPH, Director of the Center’s Environmental Health Project.


According to MarketWatch, says that 17 percent of the 1,200 tested toys had lead levels exceeding the federal stand of 600 parts per million (ppm). Those toys included Circo baby shoes, Dollar Store animal figures and Hannah Montana Pop Star card game packs. Excluding jewelry, 47 percent of toys contained PVC. Cadmium, a known human carcinogen for which there are no restrictions in children’s products, was found in 22 of 764 products including backpacks, bibs, lunch boxes, painted toys and PVC toys. Arsenic was found in 2.2 percent of the tested products. Alexandra Zissu, mother of a 22-month-old toddler and co-author of , commented: “With all of the toy recalls, it is becoming increasingly difficult to shop for children. . . eliminates fear of the unknown and allows parents to make better decisions about the products we’re buying.”

While it was impossible to test all toys, website visitors can nominate products they’d like to have tested; through Christmas, the most popularly requested items will be tested each week. The tested toys were screened with a handheld X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, which can detect the elemental composition of materials on a product’s surface.

Cadmium Chloride Crystal ConstructionTwenty-eight percent of tested toys met HealthyToys’ standards, including two made in China: Amazing Animals Hippo (Fisher-Price) and B. R. Bruin Stacking Cups. Caterpillar Grasping Toy (Melissa and Doug), manufactured in Vietnam, also passed the tests. More than 21 million toys have been recalled since August, due to a variety of problems including lead and chemical content, magnets which are easily swallowed, and, most notoriously, Aqua Dots which, when swallowed, converted chemically to the equivalent of the “date rape drug,” Rohypnol.


The Ecology Center worked with environmental health groups throughout the United States to create the database. The Center’s goals are consumer education and a push for legislative restrictions on chemicals and toxins in toys. According to Ted Schettler, M.D., Science Director at the Science and Environmental Health Network, “Toxic chemicals have no place in children’s toys, period. . . Even low-level toxic chemical exposures can have lifelong impacts. Getting toxic chemicals out of children’s toys is a moral and medical imperative.”

Read another post about products made in China.

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