Because the U.S. government doesn’t require full testing of chemicals before they are added to most consumer products, it’s important that consumers know the chemicals found in products and how it may affect their health. HealthyStuff.org, a project of Ann Arbor, MI’s Ecology Center, includes test results for over 5,000 products, including toys, apparel, accessories and kids and pet products. Created to help families make better and healthier purchasing decisions, individuals can search by product type, brand, level of concern, or chemical to find tested products and their results.
Here are a few chemicals of concern that HealthyStuff.org addresses in their testings:
Health effects: Scientists have found there is no safe level of lead for children — even the smallest amount affects a child’s ability to learn. Lead impacts brain development, causing learning and developmental problems including decreased IQ scores, shorter attention spans, and delayed learning.
Commonly found in: Lead paint in homes
Health effects: Can potentially contaminate breastmilk and umbilical cord blood, may cause reproductive problems, birth defects and thyroid problems.
Commonly found in: plastics and circuit boards for electronics, thermal insulation foams and brominated flame retardants.
Health effects: Some forms of mercury are more toxic than others. Methylmercury (from contaminated form) is hazardous to the developing brain. All forms of mercury can affect the kidneys, some forms are toxic to the nervous system.
Commonly found in: inks, adhesives. HealthyStuff.org has detected low concentrations in a wide range of consumer products. Young children may be exposed to mercury via the mother’s body to the fetus or through breast milk.
1. Look up specific products at HealthyStuff.org. If you’re on the go, learn more about their SMS texting or mobile options on their website.
2. Choose natural materials. When possible, choose plastic-free toys, wood products without paint or varnish, and avoid toys that list vinyl or PVC as an ingredient (#3 plastic).
3. Avoid children’s metal jewelry. HealthyStuff.org has found the most problems with lead in children’s products with children’s jewelry. Be especially wary of items in coin-operated dispensers and costume jewelry.
4. Get to know your products. Read the age label, warnings, safety messages, and assembly instructions. Throw away any toy that is broken or falling apart.
All information from www.healthystuff.org. The Ecology Center is also looking for participants in a research study to identify the presence of toxic chemicals in indoor environments. Those interested can learn more or sign up to participate at www.ecocenter.org or www.healthystuff.org.