Back in the old days, toys were made of natural ingredients. You had wood train sets and blocks and naturally-crafted dolls. But somewhere in the 1970s, the plastic boom brought forth a new era in toy manufacturing and with it, a ton of truly toxic toys.
It wasn’t long before we began to notice the harmful effects all these chemicals were starting to have on our children. Toys were tested to reveal harmful levels of awful substances like lead, phthalates, cadmium, BPA, PVC, and other heavy metals. These ingredients are intensely dangerous. Some cause behavioral problems while others have carcinogenic effects.
The government has regulations in place but when most toy production is farmed out to factories overseas like those in China, there are no regulations there for harmful chemicals. Thus, they make their way back to America and we obliviously buy them for our children.
Children have a greater risk than adults to suffer from these toxins, primarily because their skin absorbs the toxins with greater ease. Also, most adults don’t make a habit of chewing on dolls. The health effects on your child will not be immediate. It will be years and years down the road when the toxic chemicals they encounter now will harm them in the form of cancer and other illnesses.
Plastic toys are among the worst. Children often chew on them and these toxins permeate into their little bodies. Young girls are at particular risk because of dress-up jewelry. These items have an even higher concentration of heavy toxins in them. Bendable plastic toys and even pacifiers carry a ton of phthalates in them. Hard plastic toys have their own problems too. BPA is what is used to keep things like toy guns rigid. BPA never breaks down and goes on to contaminate the environment as well as our bodies causing significant damage to the cells within.
It’s not just those plastic toys that are frightening. It’s also those soft, snuggly toys your child can’t sleep without cuddling. Most of them are covered in chemical poisons in the form of flame retardants. These chemicals are more dangerous for people and the environment than the potential for fire. Bromine is just one of the most common flame retardants. These chemicals can lead to cancer, reproductive health issues, and lower IQ.
What can be done about this truly alarming issue? The best thing you can do is to rid your home of plastic items. Invest in toys that are made of natural woods and look for safer stuffed animals. Choose metallic toys that are painted with safe paints. Look for pacifiers made with safe ingredients. While it’s scary that these chemicals are all over our children’s toys, the good news is that these days, we have more choices for eco-friendly items. Show the big manufacturers you care about your family’s health and the environment by spending your dollars on these safer options. Money talks!