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Are your baby toys and accessories completely safe? Three chemicals you need to be aware of – BPA, PVC and Phthalates

2009 June 16
by Angels Avenue

Consumers are very trusting of products they buy, naively assuming that everything found on the store shelves is completely safe to use. The fact is that there are many compounds and chemicals in commercial use which are subject to ongoing research and controversy you may not be even aware of. This is something to bare in mind when choosing toys and accessories for babies and young children because they are at a more sensitive stage in their development and particularly vulnerable to the effects of unsafe and toxic substances. Here we offer brief information on three chemicals known or suspected to pose health risks – BPA, PVC and Phthalates.

Bisphenol A, commonly abbreviated as BPA is an industrial chemical foundin some plastics and plastic additives. Products containing bisphenol A plastics have been in commerce for more than 50 years and nearly for that long they have caused concerns about their potential harm to human health and the environment.

BPA is used in the manufacturing of baby bottles and toys, water bottles, metal cans and food storage containers amongst other products. Studies have shown that the leach of the chemical into food or liquid is a common occurrence during normal, everyday use of plastic products. New research results prove that even drinking water out of a plastic bottle can increase the content of BPA found in the human body.

Research has linked BPA with adverse health effects such as disturbed brain development, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, reproductive disorders, cardiovascular disease, behavioural and hormonal changes. While the European Union has not recognized BPA as a toxic and harmful substance, USA and Canada are moving towards issuing legislation that would ban the use of BPA in certain products. Major retailers such as Walmart have already pulled BPA bottles and food containers from their stores and some manufacturers have voluntarily eliminated it from their products.

While government reports are not conclusive on the effects of BPA on humans and as always are suggesting that more research is needed, concerned parents should not wait for legislation to protect their children from toxins. There is enough evidence that toxic effects from BPA on humans and particularly children cannot be ruled out, which is a valid reason to try and avoid using BPA plastics as much as possible.

Polyvinyl chloride plastic, commonly referred to as PVC or vinyl, is another potentially hazardous material that can be found in baby and children’s products, such as toys and bibs.  It can be dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire production, product life cycle, and even in its waste disposal because it is thought to release poisonous chemicals, such as dioxins, and phthalates. PVC is another controversial material and opinions on its use range from advisory bodies and environmental organisations such as Greenpeace advocating its full phase-out to European industry representatives claiming that its production causes minimum harmless emissions. It needs to be mentioned that PVC plastic has been believed to cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.

Manufacturers and retailers are slowly starting to recognize these potential risks and PVC use in products where healthier substitutes are available will gradually diminish. Parents have the option to choose PVC-free products for their babies and young children while more evidence of its safety becomes available. By avoiding PVC you also reduce your exposure to phthalates.

Phthalates are a class of chemicals often found in PVC. They are added to plastic products such as children’s toys to increase their flexibility and durability. Phthalates are easily released into the environment and when absorbed can disrupt natural hormones and cause potential health problems, especially in young children. Phthalates are being phased out of many products in the USA and EU over health concerns such as asthma, allergies, hormone disruption, metabolic  disorders, reproductive problems, liver and kidney damage . In contrast with the BPA legislation, the European Union is leading with the number of restricted and banned phthalates.

These are just a few facts to raise awareness of possible toxicity in baby and children’s products. Finding enough evidence to categorize them as official health threats is a long process of scientific studies and research that may take years.  In the mean time governments are happy with reports showing that minimum quantities of these chemicals are not harmful. What they don’t tell us about is that very little research has been done on what our cumulative exposure may be from all the chemicals in our homes, workplaces, nurseries and schools. The use of a singular product may not pose an immediate health threat but the continuous exposure to a large number of chemical substances from various sources can have a totally different effect.

When choosing children’s products and accessories there are many safe and natural alternatives  for  parents who want to follow precautionary principles in their child’s upbringing. Our recommendations is to always check the labelling and question what your child’s products contain.

Sophie the Giraffe and Chan, Pie, Gnon teething toys found in our shop  are made of natural rubber and free from BPA , PVC and phthalates.

Under the Nile premium organic cotton toys are both safe and a fun way to educate and entertain your kids.

Earth Mama Angel Baby skin care are made of organic ingredients and free from toxic substances.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. July 6, 2009

    I have been looking looking around for this kind of information. Will you post some more in future? I’ll be grateful if you will.

  2. July 20, 2009

    Thank you for a great blog, I will be sure to bookmark your site and check later… Usually I don’t leave a comment but I wanted to let you know that I really like your site :)

  3. July 28, 2009

    Nice site. go to my favorites. TNx

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