Antimony is a harmful toxin found in baby bibs, children’s shoes, and clothes, and in toys and games. Some studies have shown that antimony can leach from plastic food and beverage packaging, though no one knows for sure if it leaches out of children’s products.
Antimony is used as a yellow pigment in consumer products. The little-known metal is also used as a flame retardant in textiles and plastics.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit, American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability, says 525 children’s products, including blankets, footwear, and clothing from dozens of companies contain the toxic chemical antimony.
Environmental Health News reports antimony trioxide is possibly a carcinogen to humans. It’s used in the manufacture of polyester fabrics and PET plastics. Chronic exposure may cause lung damage, stomach problems, and skin irritation. Antimony is also linked to reproductive problems.
A direct quote from the Environmental Health News website cites a number of companies that use antimony in their products.
“IKEA reported it in textiles of high chairs. Harmony Juvenile Products found it in synthetic polymers of booster seats, and Mattel reported it in infant stimulation toys, cradles, exercisers, and toy vehicles, among other items. Hallmark Cards, Michaels Stores Inc., Gap, Gymboree, Nike and VF Corp., among others, reported antimony in baby bibs. It also was detected in dolls and puppets, including those reported by Spin Master Ltd., Avon Products Inc., and LeapFrog Enterprises. Greenbrier International and Horizon Group USA reported it in toys and games.”
Chronic high exposure to antimony can irritate eyes, skin, and lungs, and can bring on lung disease and stomach ailments. Antimony has also been linked to malignant lung tumors in female rats that inhaled high concentrations, as well as sterility and fewer offspring.
Protecting children from toxic chemicals is important. However, EWG realizes how difficult it is for parents and care providers to access the actual risks from chemicals in children’s products.
EWG offers the following suggestion.
“Assessing the actual risks from chemicals in kids’ products can be difficult, because children often use them in unexpected ways, such as chewing on clothes or putting toys in their mouths. Studies have shown that antimony can leach into food from plastic packaging, but there’s little information about children’s products, so consumers need to know what products contain potentially hazardous chemicals.”
[Featured image via Baby Bibs]