School supplies are one of the most shopped-for items in August and September, and the back-to-school consumerist orgy is in full swing, but experts are warning parents that some of the most popular and needed school supplies may contain toxic chemicals.
Of course, school supplies aren’t ingested or even frequently put in a child’s mouth (unless your kid is a glue-eater or pencil biter), but the other side of the coin is that kids will be using their school supplies for a large portion of the day, every day, until next summer begins.
And school supplies are often made of inexpensive plastic, plastic that could be impregnated with harmful phthalates, a new consumer report reveals.
Medical Daily cites the toxic school supplies report that targets a disturbing number of popular school supplies, specifically mentioning “vinyl backpacks, rain boots, raincoats, lunch boxes and 3-ring binders” as well as “popular branded school supplies including Disney, Dora and Spiderman” with potentially unsafe levels of phthalates.
Worryingly, the report indicates that 80 percent (or one in five) of the school supplies tested contained phthalates, and it gets worse: 75 percent contain a level of phthalates that would be deemed unsafe should the products be sold as toys and not school supplies.
One of the items, an Amazing Spiderman lunchbox (designed to hold and store a child’s daily lunch items), contained an astounding 27 times higher than in considered safe for toys level of phthalates. Mike Schade, author of the report and of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), commented on the findings in a press release:
“Our investigation found elevated levels of toxic phthalates widespread in children’s school supplies, including Disney and Spider-Man lunchboxes and backpacks. These dangerous chemicals manufactured by Exxon Mobil have no place in our children’s school supplies.”
“Unfortunately, while phthalates have been banned in children’s toys, similar safeguards don’t yet exist to keep them out of lunchboxes, backpacks and other children’s school supplies. It’s time for Congress to move forward and pass the Safe Chemicals Act to protect our children from toxic exposure.”
School supplies tested for the report were all purchased in New York City area stores. Concerned parents are advised to contact manufacturers to determine whether the school supplies they have purchased contain the toxic chemicals pegged in the report.