Are your child's school supplies toxic?

7:19 AM, Nov 15, 2012   |    comments
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By Dana Dean

St. Louis (KSDK) --  Items in your child's backpack could be hazardous to their health, according to a new study.

An advocacy group says toxic chemicals that were banned from children's toys have been discovered in children's school supplies. 

You're looking at the exact school supplies the group purchased, tested, and found to have chemicals called phthalates. 

Phthalates are used in the softening process of some plastics, especially vinyl. In 2009, phthalates were phased out of toys because of health concerns but according to this advocacy group, the chemical is in many school supplies. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, some types of the chemical have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals. 

The report by the advocacy group, Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, says the level of phthalates in 75% of supplies they tested would be illegal if the products were toys.

For example, the Dora the Explorer Backpack contained phthalate levels 16 times the federal limit for toys. Rainboots from Payless called Smart Fit had over 20 times the limit. A Disney Princess Lunch Box contained 29 times the limit. 

NewsChannel 5 gave the report to a pediatrician at Children's Hospital to read . The doctor has a message for parents. 

Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, St. Louis Children's Hospital, said, "Parents should try to buy school supplies that are not vinyl. If you see that recycle symbol with the number 3 in the middle, that's a product to avoid. Likewise, anything that says vinyl or says PVC on it. Use common sense here too. Avoid any backpack or lunchbox that is very shiny, with a shiny vinyl cover. And most importantly, tell your kids that only food that goes in your mouth."

Because of this study, New York Senator Chuck Schumer is urging the passage of the Safe Chemicals Act. It would give the EPA authority to test and restrict chemicals that can't be proven safe by manufacturers. 

Payless chose to decline the opportunity to comment about the rainboots. And Disney was aware of our story, but never got back to us with their comment. 

To read the report by CHEJ, click here.     

The CHEJ study in pictures.

 For a list of PVC-Free school supplies, click here


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