Every year, toxic levels of lead are found in name brand toys, bought in mainstream stores, in tests by the Center for Environmental Health. This, despite federal legislation passed in January 2009 banning lead and phthalates in toys for young children. No need to panic; there are plenty of lead-free toys. Here’s how to find them.
First, what to avoid. Items in ever category, from painted wood blocks and wire bead sets to action figures, plush toys, cheap jewelry and decorated water bottles, have been recalled for high levels of lead.
Check your child’s wish list against this U.S. Centers for Disease Control list of toys recalled for lead levels by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).. You can also search CPSC’s recalls by month. Give heightened scrutiny to imported toys made in Asia, and other countries that lack lead regulations. When in doubt, don’t buy, even if they’re from formerly trusted name brands.
Lists are just the tip of the iceberg. By the time most toys get recalled, they’ve already been sold. Give strict scrutiny to imported toys, including those with big U.S. brand names. Exception: Toys with an independently-verified CE safety label from the EU.
Here’s what to look for:
*Toys sold by trusted retailers you can talk with, and who can verify their products come from manufacturers who avoid lead. Like The Playstore.
*Toys bearing the CE label and an independent third party’s verifying stamp.
*Green toys made in the USA or Canada of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) wood, like many by Holgate, Rosie Hippo and others, or the colorful tea and cookware sets, trucks and more made from recycled plastic milk jugs by companies like Green Toys.
*Mothering Magazine's current issue with 24 green, nontoxic, fair-trade toys, including a crocheted astronaut and rocket ship!
*Toys made by PVC-free companies on Greenpeace’s Toy Report Card.
In addition to phthalates, PVC plastic often contains lead.
*Shop using Healthy Child Healthy World’s downloadable toy list, also on mobile. ***PLUS*** A great gift for parents: their practical environmental health book, out in paperback this year, by Christopher Gavigan.
*Toys tested for lead and phthalates and vetted for safety by Good Guide and their partner Healthy Stuff, where you can search by brand.
Beyond safety, there are other criteria, so check out Huffington Post’s 15 worst tasteless and offensive toys on sale this year! Ho-ho-ho!
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