Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Most Toxic Chemical Lurking in Your Kid's Toys

There is a reason these vinyl dinosaurs have been living outside our house for a couple of days now. Both my sons won them at the pumpkin patch we visited over the weekend. Much to my chagrin they were both handed these fun, super smelly, vinyl and super toxic dinosaurs. I was going to tell them to leave it at the pumpkin patch but they looked to happy and proud to have won something and something so 'cool' and big ( both are obsessed with dinos) that we put them in the car and drove them home ( with windows open because of the nasty smell). 

Once home, I put my foot down:  our new pet dinos had to stay outside.  Am I exaggerating? Should I have looked the other way and just let the kids bring the dinosaurs indoors to play with, vinyl smell and all? Well, it's hard to look the other way when you know the facts about vinyl....

What is so bad about vinyl? Vinyl,  is a type of plastic made up mostly of polyvinyl chloride, ( PVC)- and that results in a resistant inexpensive plastic and  that is used in everything from toys to shower curtain to flooring and building materials; PVC is all around us and impossible to completely avoid and yet, unfortunately, PVC is considered by many to be the most toxic plastic.


Oh let me count the ways:
  1. It is a known human carcinogen.  The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) labels it a known human carcinogen. 
  2. It is shi**y for your body and for the planet: When you make PVC a bunch of other toxic chemicals are released into nature, polluting the Earth and ending up inside the fatty tissue of many animals that we humans later eat. Many of these cause cancer, birth defects, diabetes, learning and developmental delays, endometriosis, and immune system abnormalities. One of them, dioxin ( used in Agent Orange) is among those released in the making of pvc and is considered the "most potent carcinogen ever tested" and the "Darth Vader of chemicals "  (I kid you not..... !) 
  3. It also exposes you to lead, a known neurotoxin : According to Healthy Child Healthy World " imported PVC products can have disturbingly high lead levels. (One study found levels 30 to 100 times higher than the federal limit for lead in all children’s items.) "
  4. It also exposes your child to dangerous amounts of endocrine disrupting phthalates - especially if your child likes to chew on his or her toys - and which small child doesn't?!   Even phthalates banned in toys by Congress, are often found in PVC. Phthalates released by PVC products are found in indoor air and dust, breast milk, and are most concentrated in children ages 6 to 11 and in women.
  5. The smell gives me a headache. If everything else doesn't convince you, if it makes you feel bad after having it around for a bit that is your body probably rejecting it.
There are so many affordable fun toys made of vinyl - is it especially bad for kids? 
Toys, in particular, are dangerous because of who plays and puts them in their mouth: namely your young kids.

The thing with chemicals and children is that children are not just little adults. Not only are they smaller in size but their brains and bodies are still developing, their metabolism and behaviors (ie: putting things in mouth) make them especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals released by PVC. 

How do we avoid PVC?
Like I always say, we can't live in a chemical free bubble but we can and should take steps to reduce our and our munchkin's exposure to these toxic chemicals.  Here is how:
  •  Avoid soft plastic toys (especially for infants and young children who place them in their mouth)  as they are most likely made from PVC, unless otherwise stated on the packaging. PVC plastics are number 3 recyclables.
  • Look for products made with solid wood (not pressed wood), wool, organic cotton, or stainless steel and that are colored with water-based dyes or non-toxic paints.
Some manufacturers and toys that are PVC free include:

Green Toys –  
Green Toys Dump Truck
 My boy's favorite dump truck these toys are not only non-toxic and great for the planet but they are incredibly long lasting.  Both boys have played - roughly- with this truck and its still in perfect condition.  

Green Toys Dump Truck, Pink
Because little girls like trucks too.  This one is pink for that girly girl who loves pink but also loves trucks! 
Green Toys Tea Set, Blue/Red/Yellow  
Have tea parties inside or outside- this tea set won't have you worried that your child is being exposed to toxic chemicals every time he/she takes a sip of her 'tea' 
Green Toys Ferry Boat with Mini Cars Bathtub Toy, Blue/White 
There is a plethora of vinyl and soft plastic bath toys available.  Finally a nice option that won't expose the kids to harsh chemicals during bath time.

Hape - Beleduc - T-Rex Glove Puppet:  For the dinosaur lover, this is a safe option that also encourages imaginative play.
Hape - Walk-A-Long Puppy:  If its a 'pet' the kids want, wooden pull or push along animal toys like this one are a great alternative

Plan Toys – 
Plan Toys Dinosaur Racer Mini Vehicle
For the little dino and car lover, this is a cute dinosaur on wheels!
Plan Toys Push Along Duck
Push toys have proven to be remarkably popular with my 2 year old.   

Holztiger Wooden Pachycephalosaurus
Made in Europe of 100% maple wood.   This dino will probably last longer than your child's love of dinosaurs (sniff sniff....) 

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