Toxic chemical found in 75% of kids' back to school supplies

Parents, beware: A new report out recently has found that many toxic chemicals, including those linked to asthma, have been found in common children's school supplies, including backpacks like the one pictured here. The organization Center for Health, Environment & Justice tested an array of products that parents normally purchase for kids' back-to-school, like backpacks, plastic lunchboxes, and 3-ring binders. To their horror, these seemingly benign products contained phthalates, a supposedly damage-causing ingredient that should not be found anywhere near materials that children use.

But the findings get worse!


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The destructive chemical was found in popular Dora the Explorer, Spiderman, and many Disney-themed supplies, including not just backpacks and lunchboxes, but raincoats, rain boots, binders, among other items. These cartoon-themed supplies are the super covetable, cool gear that any kid would love to have on their return to class--which makes the findings of these tests even more horrifying. The report, Hidden Hazards: Toxic Chemicals Inside Children's Vinyl Back-to-School Supplies, was released last week in New York City outside of one of Manhattan's Kmart stores, and warned parents of the tests that the organization ran on school supplies sold at the store.

Phthalates have been banned for use in children's toys, bottles, and other items, but according to the organization, these same rules don't yet exist for lunchboxes, backpacks, and other school supplies.

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As the beginning of school is here for many of us parents, it's important to be informed about the dangers present in so many of these common supplies. Although the study and press release have their retractors that warn parents against mass hysteria, it is interesting to know that innocent-seeming supplies that I'd easily buy for my son contain such a well-known, dangerous chemical. I'm glad for the "hysteria" because at least it keeps me and all parents aware of what kinds of products we're buying for our kids and what materials go into the supplies we trustingly get for them. Even if this chemical hasn't been proven to be 100 percent detrimental, I am going to be extra careful with it just in case.

That said, make sure any supply you buy is labeled "PVC-free" or "Toxic-free." Also, check out the photos of the popular products the Center for Health, Environment & Justice tested and their Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies to make sure you keep it safe!

 Does this report scare you? How do you make sure the supplies you get for your kids are safe?

Image via CHEJ/flickr

Topics: back to school  dangers  healthy kids  adhd