Report: Toxic Chemicals Widespread in Children's Products

Makers of children's products have reported widespread use of hazardous chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other maladies.

Makers of children's products have reported widespread use of hazardous chemicals under the landmark Washington state 2008 Children's Safe Products Act (CSPA). "What's on Your List? Toxic Chemicals in Your Shopping Cart," reveals the prevalence of chemicals that can cause cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental problems in products readily available for purchase at many of the country's largest retailers.

Among the total 4,605 reports of toxic chemicals in children's products are reports of cancer-causing formaldehyde in children's tableware and harmful flame retardants in car seats and toys. These reports of "Chemicals of High Concern to Children" being used in children's toys, clothing, safety products and bedding were reported by manufacturers between March and September 2013. Many of the products reported are sold nationally by retailers like Walmart, Target, Safeway and Toys "R" Us.

Washington's law is the first of its kind in the United States and has been lauded for shedding light on the use of harmful chemicals in children's products. For the first time under the 2008 law, medium-sized manufacturers with gross sales of $100 million or more were required to disclose whether they were using any of the 66 "Chemical of High Concern for Children" in children's products.

The chemicals being reported are linked to cancer, hormone disruption and atypical reproductive development, like early puberty. Among the chemicals reported are: formaldehyde, bisphenol A (BPA), parabens, phthalates, heavy metals, flame retardants and industrial solvents.

"This shows us, straight from the horse's mouth, that toxic chemicals are used in the manufacture of products we buy for our children," said

Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC). "Manufacturers and lawmakers face an urgent problem, one we believe can be fixed with strong state and federal policies."

Researchers at WTC were particularly surprised by new reports of manufacturers adding toxic flame retardants to baby car seats, booster seats, plastic jewelry and toys, even as health experts warn against serious health problems. Perhaps most egregious was a report by Harmony Juvenile Products, who reported using a chemical known as decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-209 or deca), banned from furniture under a 2007 law in Washington state, in baby car and booster seats.

"Parents will be hard pressed to avoid exposing their children to toxic chemicals simply by adjusting their shopping list," said Andy Igrejas, director for Safer Chemicals, Health Families, a national coalition dedicated to protecting American families from toxic chemicals. "You can't shop your way out of this problem. We urgently need retailers to mind the store on behalf of their customers and get serious about phasing out dangerous chemicals from children's products."

To access the report, visit watoxics.org

Contact: Tony Iallonardo at 202.503.8581 or tonyiallonardo@saferchemicals.org.