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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 16:13 EDT

Toxic Toy Crisis Requires Fresh Solutions

December 15, 2010

Manufacturer recalls of toys, promotional drinking glasses, and other children’s products constitute an ongoing “toxic toys crisis” that requires banning potentially harmful ingredients in these products and other changes in policy and practices. That’s the conclusion of a new analysis in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Monica Becker, Sally Edwards and Rachel Massey note that in June the United States government recalled 12 million promotional drinking glasses sold at a fast-food restaurant chain because the painted coating contained cadmium, a toxic metal. Since 2007, the government has recalled more than 17 million toys due to high levels of lead. The report says that these and other incidents have raised concern about the problem of toxic substances in toys and other children’s products, many of which are made overseas. The substances include ingredients either suspected or recognized as potentially damaging to children’s health. Although government, industry, and advocacy groups have taken significant actions to solve the problem, including restricting the use of certain substances, that response remains inadequate, the scientists say.

The authors recommend several actions for the government, including banning or restricting the use of all substances with well-documented toxicity in toys and other children’s products. They also offer recommendations for how the toy industry can be proactive, including establishing an industry-wide list of toxic substances to avoid. “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.

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