Even though it’s an issue we’re all familiar with, the numbers reported in Schmidt’s review are startling. Here are a few: 42 toy recalls, 6 million toys (and these were just the one’s recalled), lead levels in some toys (primarily vinyl) upwards of 2,000 parts-per-million or ppm, that’s 2 part-per-thousand (concentrations of lead paint over 600 ppm trigger a recall. A movement is underway in Congress to reduce this number further.) Some of the highest concentrations are found in kid’s jewelry, which caused at least two cases of lead poisoning in children, one of which was fatal.
In addition to the lead threat, Schmidt also reviews the use of pthalates (certain pthalates are what makes plastic squeeze toys, bottles and other items squeezably soft) another ubiquitous yet less well understood class of chemical contaminants. Some pthalates are known reproductive toxicants, and there are concerns that such pthalates may act cumulatively, potentially additively – such that combined exposures to small potentially non-toxic amounts, may add up to biologically active and toxic concentrations.
It’s an interesting article also covering the Toy Industry’s and the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s response in addition to proposed solutions.
Cross-posted at Encyclopedia of Earth Forum