Friday, December 10, 2010

Despite Promises, Toys R Us Still Selling 'Toxic Toys'....

Looking for chemical-free toys this Christmas season? A group of advocates warns that Toys "R" Us is not the place to shop.
A recent report, commissioned by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice in conjunction with the Teamsters Office of Consumers Affairs finds high levels of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other chemicals in toys sold at the store. Although two years ago Toys "R" Us promised to reduce the use of PVC in the toys they sell and to offer more PVC-free products, the store has "not kept its promise."
Their investigation found that 72 percent of the toys tested contained high levels of chlorine, which indicates they were most likely made of PVC. Toys testing positive for PVC were not labeled as such.
A widely used type of plastic, PVC is often a harbinger of harmful chemicals. During production of the plastic, workers can be exposed to vinyl chloride and dioxin, both known carcinogens. Normally rigid, PVC requires the addition of plasticizers and stabilizers, like phthalates, lead and organotins. Phthalates are linked to a wide range of health problems, including asthma, allergies and reproductive problems. Most childcare products and kid's toys containing greater than 0.1 percent of certain phthalates are considered banned hazardous substances, according to, a group that researches chemicals in consumer products.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is reviewing phthalates in children's toys, including a two-day meeting this week to study the effect on children's health of all phthalates and phthalate alternatives used in children's toys and products. Some states and the EU have already banned the use of the chemicals in toys.
The CHEJ report also found that 20 percent of the toys in the study contained tin, indicating the presence of organotins in the toys.
"Two years ago, millions of toys were recalled because they were contaminated with lead. This new investigation found that Toys R Us and their suppliers have replaced one toxic hazard, lead, with another, organotins. Toys R Us need to finish the job and get PVC and organotins out of the toys they sell once and for all," said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center, in the CHEJ press release.
Since the report found Toys "R" Us had not kept their promise to phase out PVC, a coalition of environmental justice, parents and children's health groups launched a new website,"Toxic Toys R Us," in an effort to hold them accountable this holiday season and to encourage them to phase out toxic plastics. On Black Friday, they launched a Facebook campaign and had supporters use the "Toxic Toys R Us" logo as their Facebook picture. As the holidays approach, it's likely the pressure will mount for Toys "R" Us to go PVC-free.
Tell Toys "R" Us to stand up to their promise of phasing out PVC products and offering PVC-free products by signing the Center for Environment, Health and Justice's petition.

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