Skip to main content

State of the Playroom

Recent reports of high levels of lead in fidget spinners are a good reminder that toxic chemicals remain in kids’ items. Fortunately in Washington state, companies that make toys and other kids’ products have to tell us what chemicals they use in their products by filing reports with the Washington State Department of Ecology.

These reports cover 66 chemicals of high concern for kids’ health (and soon to be 85 in 2019). Chemicals that must be reported include lead, cadmium, and toxic flame retardants. The latest round of reports filed between March and August of 2017 uncovered some concerning information.

There are still too many harmful chemicals in kids’ products.

Makers of kids’ items filed over 9300 reports of using chemicals of high concern in kids’ products like toys, clothing, and personal care products. The chemicals reported can cause cancer, learning problems, hormone disruption, and many other health effects. Children in the US are at high risk of chronic disease, some of which are attributable to exposure to toxic chemicals.

Toxic flame retardants remain widespread in kids’ products.

In the last six months, manufacturers filed over 400 reports of kids’ products containing flame retardant chemicals, including in toys, games, art supplies, and clothing and other textiles. Flame retardants reported included some that belong to a class of chemicals called organohalogens. Last month, the top consumer watchdog agency (USCPSC) warned companies making and selling to consumers to avoid products, including kids’ products, containing organohalogen flame retardants.

Exxel Outdoors LLC reported an outdoor play structure sold in 2016 that contains the flame retardants TDCPP at over 10,000 ppm and TCEP between 1,000 and 5,000. New state standards that went into effect July 1, 2017 mean products sold after that with those levels will violate state law.

Company reports phthalate levels that appear to violate Washington state law.

Komar Kids reported levels of the hormone-disrupting phthalate DINP in underwear, chemise, and camisoles well above the state limit of 1000 ppm in kids’ products. The company reported over 10,000 ppm.

American Greetings Corp. reported cancer-causing cadmium in its dolls and soft toys.

Though a federal law allows this amount in toys because it passes a certain type of testing, we say cadmium doesn’t belong in kids’ toys at all.

Paint Stripper Chemical in Infant Toy.

Disturbingly, MGA Entertainment and Little Tikes reported using a cancer-causing chemical that the USEPA is proposing to ban in paint stripper in an infant toy. The levels reported were between 5000 ppm and 10000 ppm. While the information available doesn’t indicate the specific Little Tikes toy that contains these levels, Little Tikes should remove the toy from store shelves and alert parents who bought the toy in question.

Dollar Tree Continues to Stock Products with Harmful Chemicals.

Customers shopping for a bargain shouldn’t have to worry about toxic chemicals. Yes, the discount retailer Dollar Tree (parent company is Greenbrier International ) continues to report high levels of toxic chemicals in its products. Even though the retailer promises to reduce chemicals in its products, the company reported 423 products that contained chemicals of high concern for children in the latest round of reporting. Safer products – ones without harmful chemicals – should be available for everyone regardless of where one shops. Dollar Tree stores needs to protect its customers and get harmful chemicals out of its products.

A Silver Lining

It’s frustrating that manufacturers are still using harmful chemicals in kids’ products. But there is a silver lining to this bad news! Thanks to these reports we KNOW what companies continue to use harmful chemicals in their products. That gives us the power to do something about it!

Companies care about what their customers want. So YOU need to tell them you want less toxic products.  There is no excuse for companies to be using chemicals that are harmful to kids’ health in their products. You need to show them their customers demand change.

Click here to sign the petition to Little Tikes, Exxel Outdoors, Komar Kids, American Greetings Corp., and Dollar Tree, asking them to stop using chemicals we know are harmful to kids in their products. Together, we can get toxic chemicals out of products kids use everyday!

Check out our top tips for shopping toys by clicking here and signing up for our newsletter!