Toxic Toy Ingredients Should Be Banned, Report Says

New research in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology describes rising recalls of toys, children’s products, and promotional items leading to a “toxic toys crisis,” said Science Daily. This crisis, said the authors, calls for a ban of some possibly harmful ingredients that are in these items and also calls for policy and practice changes in how these items are produced.

In the United States, 12 million promotional drinking glasses were recalled over issues with cadmium in the paint on a fast-food chain’s glasses. Cadmium, a known carcinogen, can interfere with brain development in very young children. On the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7.

Since 2007, said Science Daily, some 17 million toys have been recalled over high levels of lead. Another significantly dangerous heavy metal, lead causes behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, digestive problems, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. Lead poisoning can cause seizure, coma, and death.

Citing the recalls and other events, the report points to issues concerning toxic substances in items geared to children, a good amount of which are manufactured overseas, said Science Daily. Problematic substances include ingredients that are either known or believed to be damaging to children’s health, noted Science Daily.

Scientists argue that despite government, industry, and advocacy groups moving to resolve the issue, significant progress has not been made, wrote Science Daily. Now, the authors are calling for bans and restrictions on substances known to be toxic and which are used in toys and children’s products, said Science Daily, also suggesting recommendations for industry such as an industry-wide list of toxins to be avoided.

“Until significant changes in policy and practice occur, consumers cannot be confident that products they purchase for children are safe, healthy, and environmentally sustainable,” the report states.

Other chemicals have been known to be in products geared to children, prompting controversy. For instance, Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers learned that exposure to three common chemical classes—phenols, phthalates, and phytoestrogens—in young girls, can result in adverse physical effects, said Science Daily previously. The chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors, which interfere with the endocrine—hormonal—system in the body and are found in many products.

Another hormone disruptor and estrogenic mimicker is bisphenol A—BPA—a ubiquitous plastics chemical linked to cardiovascular disease, intestinal problems, brain cell connection interference, increased risks of reproductive and immune system diseases and disorders, problems with liver function testing, interruptions in chemotherapy, premature puberty, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems.

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