Back-to-school season can be stressful but parents and teachers shouldn’t have to worry about the harmful toxins in our school supplies. Dangerous toxic chemicals have recently been discovered in several supplies and this hasn’t been the first time.
And it’s completely legal.
While some school products include toxins that could hurt children, they are not banned by the government. It is completely legal to have asbestos in crayons and phthalates in some school products. Recently, the U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) required the testing of 27 school supplies from numerous store retailers and published this report indicating several school supplies currently on the market have alarming toxic chemicals.
The list of supplies on the U.S.PIRG report included:
• Playskool Crayons (Labeled “non-toxic” on the packaging) Contained Asbestos.
Asbestos is linked to cancer. If ingested or inhaled, asbestos can cause severe damage to a person’s health, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
• Jot 1 Inch 3 Ring Blue Binder – Tested positive for Phthalates.
Phthalates has been linked to cancer, asthma, lower IQ scores, childhood obesity, infertility, early puberty, irregular fetal growth, diabetes and ADHD.
• The Board Dudes Dry Erase Marker & Expo Dry Erase Marker Scented Ink – Found traces of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene).
BTEX, which refers to four chemicals that have been linked to sexual reproduction issues, kidney, liver, and immune system damage. One of the four chemicals is benzene which is a carcinogen.
There is more…
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in April 2018 recalled water bottles coated with paint containing high levels of lead and in May 2018, also recalled Colorations™ brand extra-large crayons. The red crayons in the multi-color sets can contain glass, posing a laceration hazard.
Children’s backpacks, lunch boxes and rain boots are showing that they may contain higher levels of toxic chemicals than the government allows in toys according to a study that was released by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ). Several of these items contained high levels of phthalate used to soften vinyl plastic. For a full list of items from this study you can read it here.
How many times have we seen our toddler with a crayon in their mouth? As a parent, we know we have way more to stress about in raising our children.
So, what you can do?
If you’re buying school supply or art materials, look for the “AP label” that comes from the Art and Creative Materials Institute.
If you see this label:
you know the product has been tested and certified to be non-toxic. If there is no label, you can also check for a manufacturer’s “children’s product certificate” on the item, which confirms that the product has been tested and meets the specifications set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Being aware of and mindful of the potential presence of toxins when buying supplies for children with growing bodies is important since they can be highly toxic through simply breathing or ingesting these harmful products. We also need to continue to support the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency, and urge them to continue to test more school supplies for unsafe chemicals because when we send our kids to school, we shouldn’t have to worry about toxic supplies they are potentially using.
Resources and image credits: