Posts Tagged ‘phthalates’

Over One Third of Children’s Toys and Products Contain Chemicals that are Linked to Learning and Developmental Disabilities

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011


non-toxic safe baby toysWe all like buying toys for our kids. We usually have several in the toy chest even before the baby is born. Shortly after birth little boys are often presented with footballs and miniature hockey sticks; little girls with what we hope will be their favorite dolls; and both get the teddy bears and rubber duckies.

But before you go out on a shopping spree, you should have more information on which toys are actually safe. We’re not talking about the usual safety concerns – small parts in a baby’s mouth, we’re talking about chemicals.

We already know that rubber duckies, or any toy made of vinyl, may well contain phthalates or other chemicals you really don’t want your baby to ingest. But phthalates aren’t the only toxic chemicals you have to worry about.

In fact, according to the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health, over one third of children’s toys and products contain chemicals that are linked to learning and developmental disabilities?

How’s that for a scary statistic?

To help handle the problem and make sure parents are informed about which toys are safe and which aren’t, Senator Roger Kahn of Michigan is drafting legislation designed to “to protect your kids from toxic chemicals found in their most popular toys.”

Says Senator Kahn, “I don’t want them to get poisoned from cadmium or zinc or arsenic or anything.”

If you’re in Michigan, you’re in luck. You have a Senator that recognizes the problem and cares enough to do something about it.

At Naturepedic, we protect children by making crib mattresses that have been independently tested and certified so we, and you, can be sure our products don’t emit any harmful chemical fumes your baby might breathe while spending 15 or so hours in the crib everyday.

But it doesn’t stop with the crib. Toys are a very big concern.

Find out more about the chemicals in toys on the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health. There is also information in our blog Unsafe Toys 2010: What Toys To Avoid this Holiday Season, and What to Buy that you may find useful.

If you would like information on specific toys and children’s products, check out HealthyStuff.org’s very helpful list. It categorizes products with ‘None,’ ‘Low,’ ‘Medium,’ and ‘High’ levels of concern.

You can also find a list of websites with safe and fun toys on the Toys page of Debra’s List.

Do your baby and yourself a favor: Get them safe toys.

New Study Reveals Toxic Chemicals in Flooring and Wallpaper. Are They in Your Child’s Nursery?

Monday, October 25th, 2010


Whether you’re a DIY’er or having your child’s nursery (or any other part of your home) renovated or decorated professionally, you might want to take a look at the recent study done by HealthyStuff.org and the Ecology Center on the toxic chemicals found in flooring and wallpaper.

HealthyStuff.org tested a whopping 3,300 home improvement products – 1,106 samples of flooring, and 2,312 samples of wallpaper.

None of the products tested are currently subject to any regulation regarding toxic chemical contents. In fact, the database of the results is the largest publicly available database of toxic chemicals in home improvement products.

The results were pretty amazing. Here are the overall findings from the horse’s mouth:

“Heavy metals and other additives are commonly found in residential flooring and wallpaper. These chemicals include lead, cadmium, flame retardants, tin compounds and phthalates — harmful chemicals that are linked to asthma, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer.

“Home improvement products are largely unregulated for chemical hazards and contain hazardous chemicals additives, called phthalates, at levels prohibited in children’s products by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). CPSC prohibits the presence of 6 phthalates in children’s products at levels greater then 1,000 ppm.

“PVC building materials were 7-times more likely to contain hazardous additives, compared to non-vinyl alternatives tested in this study. All PVC materials tested – 1,350 of 3,019 contained hazardous additives; Non-PVC materials – 18 of 273.

“Over 1/2 (53% – 1,234 of 2,312) and 15% (119 of 793) of flooring had one or more hazardous chemical additives.

“Levels of hazardous chemical additives in flooring and wallpaper are commonly found in household air and dust at levels 5-100 times higher then outdoor concentrations.”

You’ll probably recognize ‘phthalates’ – they were recently banned in crib mattresses and other children’s products. Three types of phthalates were banned in some types of children’s products, and six in others (anything a child under 12 might put in their mouth.) The ban covers a wide range of products – everything from the vinyl waterproof covering on many crib mattresses (not in Naturepedic crib mattresses, of course) to the rubber ducky your little one plays with in the bath. According to the study, nearly half of the PVC/vinyl products tested contained hazardous additives – which would include phthalates – so it’s not just the products that were banned we have to worry about.

Looking at renos? Watch out for hazardous chemicals. Your best bet is to look for companies that don’t use them in their products. Also, check out the full HealthyStuff.org study. You can search the product results by brand, type and levels of detection.

Some Kids’ Products from China Not in Compliance with Toxic Chemical Regulations

Thursday, September 30th, 2010


phthalates in kids productsAs of February 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) banned the use of phthalates, chemicals that soften PVC so it can be used as a waterproof vinyl covering in crib mattresses, in soft vinyl toys, pacificers and other baby and children’s products. The phthalates restriction applies to “children care articles” which are defined as “intended to facilitate sleep, feeding, sucking or teething for children aged 3 or younger”. Within that group, if the item can be placed in the mouth or sucked, then six phthalates are banned. If not, then only three are banned. Further review and study was to be done to determine whether a ban should also be placed on additional phthalates.

So … how goes the battle? Are our children’s products now free of these dangerous chemicals? One of the organizations used to find out this info is called AsiaInspection, a Hong Kong company formed in 2004 to test, inspect and generally run quality control on Asian goods for importers around the world.

Recently, AsiaInspection conducted tests on kids’ toys from China to determine if the goods meet the phthalates-content requirements.

How did they fare? About 25% of the kids’ toys they tested contained dangerous levels of phthalates and, therefore, did not conform to the U.S. and European chemical content regulations. In fact, one product, a toy first aid kit, contained 130 times the phthalates allowable under European law.

To conduct the tests, AsiaInspection randomly chose 35 toys made in China. They then tested the toys against the regulations contained in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in the U.S. and it’s European counterpart REACH (which stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemicals).

What can we as parents do to ensure that our kids’ products are safe?

1. Check to see that labels or company websites state that their products are in compliance with CPSIA standards. If necessary, call and talk to them about it.

2. Find out exactly what organization certified the products for that company.

3. Check out the certifying organization to make sure it’s recognized and on the level.

Also, it’s a good idea to find manufacturers you trust and use them as much as possible. Naturepedic, for example, has all the right certifications and is a trusted name in crib mattresses, mattresses for cradles, bassinets and so on, changing pads, mattress pads and toppers, and bedding.

Look for your own trusted names in toys, clothing and other children’s articles and stick with them. Then you’ll never have to worry.

How the Chemicals in Your Life Are Affecting Your Unborn Children

Sunday, May 30th, 2010


eliminate toxic chemicals if you're pregnantIf you’ve been reading our blog, or keeping up with news items (including a piece on 60 Minutes that aired just a week ago), you will know that many of the items in our everyday lives contain potentially harmful chemicals. This is even more of a problem for kids than adults, because kids’ bodies are still developing. But the problem starts long before the kids are born. In fact, it’s immediately after conception. Check out this resource that shows you exactly when and in what part of the body chemicals affect your unborn child.

The resource is a chart on the website of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). TEDX is a non-profit organization that studies the effects of low-dose exposure to endocrine disruptors, chemicals that effect fetal development and human health. These chemicals include, but are not limited to, bisphenol A (BPA), dioxin, and phthalates.

The chart is called Critical Windows of Development. It lists the various systems, organs and so on within the body and shows the stages of development during each weeks and trimesters in the womb. On the upper right of the chart, it shows checkboxes for ‘All Chemicals’, ‘Bisphenol A’, ‘Dioxin’, and ‘Phthalates’. Check ‘Phthalates’, for example, and red lines appear on the chart that show you which systems they affect, and at what period of pregnancy.

There are also little triangles on the chart that provide the names of studies that support the information.

One thing is clear: If we want to give our kids the best chance at being healthy as children and throughout their lives, expectant Mothers need to be free of these chemicals.

Pass this on to anyone you know who is pregnant, or may be in the future, so they can start doing something about it now.

What do they do about it? Eliminate the chemicals from their lives as much as possible. Many of our blog posts show you how to do that, and Debra Lynn Dadd’s book Home Safe Home has a wealth of information on what chemicals are in what products and suggestions on healthy alternatives. But, basically, just go organic, go toxin-free.

And once your baby is born, make sure you continue your toxic-free life. Get the baby a safe crib and baby crib mattress, made with non-toxic materials, swaddle them in organic cotton, feed them organic food, get them glass baby bottles and diapers and toys that are not made of harmful plastics or other potentially harmful chemicals.

More Mainstream Media Coverage Brings the Dangers of Toxics to the Forefront

Sunday, April 11th, 2010


The truth about the effects of toxic chemicals in our everyday lives is getting more mainstream media attention now than ever. Just last week, Time magazine published a list of ten common household toxins that ‘mounting evidence’ shows may be linked to health problems.

Here’s the list, along with where these chemicals are commonly found:

1. Bisphenol A (BPA) – food wrap, water bottles and other plastics
2. Oxybenzone – moisturizers, sunscreens, lip balm
3. Flouride – toothpaste, tap water
4. Parabens – moisturizers, hair care and shaving products
5. Phthalates – skin care treatment products, crib mattresses, toys, shower curtains, just about everything made with pliable PVC/vinyl
6. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) – chewing gum, snack foods, diaper creams
7. Perflouroctanoic Acid – tap water, teflon and non-stick pots and pans
8. Perchlorate – drinking water, soil
9. Decabromodiphenyl Ether (DECA) – flame retardant in electronics, furniture, carpets
10. Asbestos – insulation, drywall, artificial fireplace logs, toys

The Time article doesn’t give a lot of information on each chemical and, of course, the actual list of toxic chemicals commonly found is in the thousands. But that’s not the point.

The important thing is that they are writing about it – more people are being educated, the powers that be will be more motivated to bring the issue to the top of their agenda, change will occur at a more accelerated rate, and we’ll all be living healthier lives.

Toxic Chemicals Are Putting Your Children at Risk

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Check out the startling details in a new health report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

Read The Health Case for Reforming The Toxic Substances Control Act

Read The Health Case for Reforming The Toxic Substances Control Act

The results of a compilation and analysis of 30 years of environment studies, recently published as a health report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, revealed startling details about the increase in disease in the U.S. over the last 35 years, and the link to toxic chemicals.

Here are some of the statistics from the report:

  • Leukemia, brain cancer, and other childhood cancers, have increased by more than 20% since 1975.
  • Breast cancer went up by 40% between 1973 and 1998 and, while breast cancer rates have declined since 2003, a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is now one in eight, up from one in ten in 1973.
  • The incidence of asthma doubled between 1980 and 1995 and has stayed at the elevated rate.
  • Difficulty in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy affected 40% more women in 2002 than in 1982. For woman aged 18 – 25, the incidence of reported difficulty has almost doubled.
  • The birth defect resulting in undescended testes increased 200% between 1970 and 1993.
  • Diagnosed autism has increased more than 10 times in the last 15 years.

According to the report, there is a growing consensus that chemicals are playing a role in the incidence and prevalence of these diseases.

The birth defect resulting in undescended testes, for example, as well as other hormonal problems with young boys, could be the result of exposure to phthalates – the plasticizer chemicals used to soften PVC/Vinyl so it can be used as a waterproof covering in crib mattresses – which is one of the reasons three phthalates were banned in baby mattresses and other kids products. One study even found that the school-age boys of women who tested positive for phthalates in their urine while pregnant played in ways that were not typical of young boys – no trucks, rough housing, and so on.

What’s being done about the chemical problem?

Although the EPA has admitted they’ve failed to protect the public from the dangers of toxic chemicals, and is currently making changes, the track record is abysmal: Since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted 34 years ago, only 200 of the 80,000 chemicals that have since been produced and used in the U.S. have been tested by the EPA, and only five have been regulated.

Health care reform is currently the subject of intense controversy. But real reform will come when we start getting rid of the chemicals suspected of exacerbating, if not causing, illness.

Chemical policy reform would also free up a lot of health care dollars: If reducing exposure to chemicals resulted in healthier people, it would only take one tenth of one percent in health savings to free up $5 billion every year.

Read more details in the report, The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families also has a campaign to help eliminate toxic chemicals. There are many facets to their campaign, including Parents for Non-Toxic Alternatives and several others directly concerned with toxic chemicals and the relationship to child safety. Check them out, you may want to become involved.

If you’re concerned about your child’s safety and want to do something about it right now, consider getting a Naturepedic toddler or crib mattress, along with our safe child and baby bedding and pillows. Also, check out the book Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd for thousands of safe alternatives for just about every chemical in your household.

New Study Links Phthalates to ADHD – One More Reason to Use Organic Crib Mattresses

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010


cdc_logoIt is troubling to see how many children are suffering from ‘learning disorders.’ Parents are tearing their hair out trying to find solutions, and often resort to putting their kids on drugs when they see no other solution. However, a new study linking ADHD to the chemical plasticizers ‘phthalates’ may offer some hope.

The study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, found that the higher the concentration of phthalates in the urine, the more apt the children were to have ADHD symptoms. The researchers also found “significant relationships” between urine concentrations and errors in continuous performance tests (CPTs), which measure the child’s sustained and selective attention – the ability to focus on the right things at the right times – and impulsivity. CPT is used to support an ADHD diagnosis.

So, where are these phthalates coming from?

According to other studies, it starts in the womb: phthalates in mom’s body transfer to the child. Mom may have gotten them into her body via her hand lotion, nail polish, or a variety of other personal care products, or from food containers and packaging, laundry detergents or even the enteric coating on pharmaceuticals.

So, the kids get off to a bad start. Then, right from infancy, they sleep on crib mattresses with PVC/vinyl waterproof coverings made pliable by the use of phthalates. We’ve never used phthalates in our Naturepedic crib mattresses, and we never will.

From the crib mattress, the very long list of products containing phthalates continues: Plastic toys, building materials, textiles, the same liquid soap and detergent used by mom – it goes on and on.

According to a study published in Atmospheric Environment in 2008, manufacturers produce about 800 million pounds of phthalates each year (those figures are from 2004, the latest available at the time), and they contribute 10-60% of plastic products by weight.

Fortunately, the U.S. government is getting wise to phthalates. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned phthalates in crib mattresses and some children’s products last year – although only three phthalates were banned and several others are still used. Both the CPSC and the EPA are doing further investigation, and the EPA now has a Phthalates Action Plan by which they hope to determine the degree to which these chemicals should be restricted – or perhaps banned altogether.

But, unlike Europe – where phthalates were banned a decade ago – we’re a long way from full protection.

What is the answer? The obvious solution is to avoid them. Fortunately, there are more and more products out there that do not contain phthalates. Look for them. If you have questions about specific products, contact the manufacturer. If they can’t guarantee ‘no phthalates,’ switch to a brand that can.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 10% of U.S. children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Wouldn’t it be great if an environment free of phthalates and other dangerous chemicals could change that?

Update on Phthalates Ban in Crib Mattresses

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009


He loves his Naturepedic phthalates-free mattress!

He loves his phthalates-free natural crib mattress!

First, a brief recap:

(If you don’t know about the chemicals called phthalates, read our blogs Is Your Crib Mattress Phthalates Free? Why You Need to Find Out and New Phthalates Research Indicates Male Children Less Male in Play.)

As of February 9, 2009, certain products made for children – including crib mattresses – could no longer contain more than 1,000 parts per million of any of three types of phthalates. That’s 1,000 PPM per phthalate per item. The ban on those three types of phthalates is permanent.

A temporary ban was also put on three other phthalates, but only in products a child could put in his mouth, suck or chew. More research is to be done on the additional three phthalates to determine if they should also be permanently banned like the other three.

The Commission was supposed to post its procedures for accrediting labs to test for phthalates in June 2009 and, as of September, 2009, manufacturers were supposed to have their products certified as compliant with the phthalates limits based on third-party testing by accredited third-party laboratories.

However, the September 2009 certification date was extended to February 10, 2010, and, as of this month, has now been extended indefinitely. Why? Because no third-party labs have yet been CPSC accredited.

There are significant penalties for non-compliance but, since there’s no way of proving anything at this point, it’s hard to say how those penalties will be enforced.

Given that some companies have found it cheaper to pay fines than comply with laws, and given that many chemicals that were once determined safe at certain levels were later found to be hazardous, I’d personally feel safer with a product that uses no phthalates, and never has. Like Naturepedic.

And that’s just one big reason why Naturepedic crib mattresses are the only crib mattresses recommended by Healthy Child Healthy World.

New Phthalates Research Indicates Male Children Less Male in Play

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009


Thumbs up for no phthalates!

Thumbs up for no phthalates!

A new study shows that kids don’t have to sleep on crib mattress with phthalates in them or play with phthalates-laden toys to suffer the consequences of these dangerous chemicals. It’s getting into their bodies while they’re still in the womb.

Phthalates are in a long list of products: perfumes, fragrances, cosmetics, scented lotions, shampoos, aftershaves, nail polish, hair spray, food packaging, adhesives, car interiors, medical devices like blood IV bags and tubing, vinyl flooring, vinyl wallpaper, vinyl shower curtains – the list is very long.

So long, in fact, that it would be hard to find a mom who wasn’t exposed to phthalates during or before her pregnancy.

The new study, published in the International Journal of Andrology, tested the urine of women during the 28th week of pregnancy and divided them into four groups based on the concentration of phthalate metabolites or breakdown products. Then they assessed the play behavior of their 145 children when they reached age 3 to 6.

If mothers were in the highest concentration group, the chance that their boys had a less masculine score was five times greater than mothers in the lowest concentration group. They just didn’t do the things that are considered typical for little boys.

One of the researchers, Dr. Shanna Swan, PhD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Center for Reproductive Epidemiology, and an expert on phthalates, said she and other experts suspect that exposure to phthalates affects the level of testosterone crucial for the development not only of male reproductive organs, but also the masculine brain. ”We now suspect that the phthalate [exposure] affects the entire body, not just the reproductive tract,” she told Web MD.

The researchers studied only two types of phthalates, DEHP and DBP, both of which have been permanently banned in certain children’s products – including crib mattresses – as of February 2009. Which doesn’t mean those products aren’t still on the shelves, they just can’t be in products manufactured after that date.

Any woman who is pregnant or considering become pregnant would be wise to look into this. It’s crucial to her health – read Is Your Crib Mattress Phthalates Free? Why You Need to Find Out for more info on the potential health hazards to adults and children – and her baby’s.

We don’t use phthalates in Naturepedic crib mattresses – never have, never will.

Is Your Crib Mattress Phthalates Free? Why You Need to Find Out.

Thursday, December 10th, 2009


Cute? Yes. But what about phthalates?

Cute? Yes. But what about phthalates?

As of February 10, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) banned the manufacture of child care articles and toys containing phthalates (pronounced “thalates”). Phthalates are plasticizer chemicals commonly used in crib mattresses and mattress pads: they soften PVC/vinyl to make it pliable so it can be used as a waterproof surface.

They’re also used in many kids’ toys.

Although we’ve never used phthalates in Naturepedic crib mattresses, they have been used for decades by just about every other crib mattress manufacturer out there.

So why the big hullabaloo over chemicals that have been used in baby and child products for decades? Because we now know (have for many years, actually) that phthalates leach out of vinyl over time where they can reach your baby or child. And that is dangerous with a capital D.

Research has linked phthalates to hormonal and endocrine system problems, especially in boys. In 1997, a study published in the International Journal of Cancer found a high risk of testicular cancer associated with exposure to PVC products.

Other research has also linked phthalates to other types of cancer, and to liver problems.

Numerous U.S. government agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The U.S. Department of Health, the FDA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have issued public safety statements concerning the use of phthalates.

Also, a study done by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that phthalates are animal carcinogens and can cause fetal death, malformations and problems with the endocrine system. The AAP went on to say that the risk to children was even greater because their bodies and organ systems are still developing.

Phthalates have been banned in some European countries for 10 years – finally, the U.S. is catching up.

Read more about phthalates and the phthalates ban on our site.

Phthalates, by the way, are not just in crib mattresses. They can also be found in perfumes and fragrances, cosmetics, scented lotions, shampoos, aftershaves, nail polish, hair spray, toys, car interiors, medical devices like blood IV bags and tubing, vinyl flooring, vinyl wallpaper, and vinyl shower curtains – to name just a few of the most common types of products.

What can you do about? Get educated, get rid of crib mattresses and toys containing phthalates and, in general, get phthalates out of your life. An ounce of prevention ….