Toys give teething babies an early taste of toxicity
A new report that evaluated toys has found that many of the toys believed as “harmless” and “safe” for babies are actually rich in toxic chemicals that could prove harmful in the later stages of life. The Environment California Research and Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund that tested 25 early childhood toys found them to be containing the potentially poisoning phthalates and toxic flame-retardants in 18 samples.
The report that has called for the government to ban the use of toxic chemicals in the manufacture children's products, has suggested that phthalates are frequently found in teething products that have the highest potential of the toxicity in entering the babies bloodstreams. Currently the government has placed no restrictions on manufacturers using these chemicals for producing children's products. If teething and bath toys are toxic, so are babies bedding such as mattress pads, sleep wedges and foam based cushions, which found to contain flame retardants or PBDEs in three out of seven instances.
The report highlighting the consequences of the most potent group of toxic chemicals present suggested, “Phthalates are linked to premature birth, reproductive defects and early onset of puberty". The study also found that products, which had been labeled phthalate-free or non-toxic also yielded positive test results for the chemical, questioning the credibility of the labels. The report suggested that the flame proofing of bedding actually exposed babies to "PBDEs, linked to impaired learning and memory, reproductive defects, cancer, and impaired immune systems".
A mother of an 8 month-old Tara Wolfson said, "The hardest thing as a mother is how to navigate what's safe and what's not”, and things only got worse when manufacturers chose to provide inaccurate labels. Megan Purvis, the study's lead researcher said, "Not all products marketed for children and babies are free from toxic chemicals… Many contain chemicals that may have harmful health impacts for children exposed during critical stages of development". Anna Aurilio, Director at USPIRG, suggested, "Even the most informed consumers like me don't know that books like this, that my child has been chewing on for months, contain levels of very toxic chemicals".
Rachel Gibson, who authored the report, linked the phthalates that gives teethers, bath books and toys their appealing flexibility “to a number of adverse health effects including cancer". But the Toy Industry Association chose to ignore the potential hazards taking refuge in the absence of “solid, scientific evidence” of the harmful effects of phthalates in toys. But the Environmental Protection Agency is unwilling to mutely buy that argument and has proposed a long-term study to evaluate the long-term damaging effects of these chemicals on children. The worst thing about these chemicals is the fact that even otherwise they are widely present in homes in products that range from everyday utilities used for a short while to long-use furnishings.
What the studies need to analyze is the compounding of this inevitable exposure to the toxic chemicals by their inclusion in early childhood toys. Even if the government does little to recognize the potential hazards, consumers need to be educated about them and given a chance to choose natural alternatives over the apparent attractiveness of colorful, flexible plastic toys and softest foam bedding to give their babies their best chances of a healthy, long life. For now wooden toys, veggie teethers and feather beds may make a comeback as popular alternatives if the Environment California Research and Policy Center actively promotes natural alternatives for newborns.
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