Check your kids’ gifts

The holiday season again brought more toy safety issues from consumer advocates and although this advice is probably late (since most already threw out tons of ripped boxes that house their kids’ gifts), it might still be worthwhile checking in the internet to see if your toys are safe, according to nonprofit group Ecology Center.

The group released early this month its second annual consumer guide to toxic chemicals in toys at www.HealthyToys.org. In their list of 1,500 popular children’s toys tested for lead, cadmium, arsenic, PVC and other harmful chemicals, one in three toys tested were reportedly found to contain “medium” or “high” levels of chemicals of concern.HealthyToys.org found lead in 20% of all the products tested this year, including 54 products (3.5%) that exceed the current 600 ppm recall threshold for lead-based paint, and the soon-to-be national standard for all children’s products. Researchers said there is also no correlation found between the country of manufacture and the presence of toxic chemicals in toys so even some of those samples made from the USA have detectable lead content.

The good news, according to HealthyToys.org is that 62% (954) of the products tested contain low levels of chemicals of concern, including 324 of these products which contained no chemicals of concern.

Although the American Chemistry Council (ACC) says they support the effort to inform and educate the public about toy safety issues, the ACC objected to the mis-characterizations of phthalates, a family of compounds whose primary use is to make vinyl soft and flexible.

The ACC says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has never expressed immediate concerns about phthalates used in toys and child care articles, and that unlike children’s products with lead that have been recalled by CPSC numerous times in the past, there has been no equivalent activity by the CPSC with regard to phthalates.

Just to be on the good side of the consumers and to help customers comply with the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), a U.S. law prohibiting the use of some phthalates in toys and other products for children, plastic producer PolyOne says it has developed phthalate-alternative materials that meet criteria for regulatory compliance and eco-conscious composition while maintaining traditional properties and performance.

The CPSIA law is expected to take effect on February 10, 2009.
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