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Website Identifies Car Seats and 100s of Items with Lead and Other Toxins


Consumers can now visit an interactive website called HealthyStuff.org and identify hundreds of items, from toys to school supplies and women’s handbags, that contain potentially dangerous amounts of lead, arsenic, and other toxins. The website is reported to be the largest searchable public database in the United States, according to the nonprofit environmental group that performed the product testing, Ecology Center of Ann Arbor.

HealthyStuff.org added newly released test data on more than 900 products to its interactive website on September 16. The website is now home to more than 15,000 test results accumulated from more than 5,000 common items ranging from pet products to children’s lunch boxes. Researchers at the Ecology Center analyzed everyday products for the presence of toxic chemicals including lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and arsenic. These toxins have been linked to liver toxicity, thyroid disorders, learning disabilities, cancer, developmental disabilities, and reproductive disorders, among other health issues.

Among the findings of the Ecology Center were “chemicals of concern” in most of the more than 60 common back-to-school supplies tested, according to the HealthyStuff.org website. The researchers reported that nearly 90 percent of the supplies (e.g., backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil cases, binders) contained one or more toxins, that 22 percent contained detectable levels of lead, and that “far too many” were made of polyvinyl chloride.

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Among pet products, which are not regulated by the government, the group analyzed more than 400 items, including chew toys, beds, leashes, and collars. Twenty-five percent of the products had detectable levels of lead. Of these, 7 percent had levels greater than 300 ppm, the current standard for lead in children’s products set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A surprising finding was the amount of lead detected in women’s handbags. HealthyStuff.org tested more than 100 handbags and found lead in more than 75 percent. Sixty-four percent of the bags contained more than 300 ppm lead, and 50 percent of the handbags topped 1,000 ppm lead.

More than half (58%) of the car seats tested by the group contained one or more hazardous chemicals, including PVC, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and heavy metals. This does not mean infants and young children who use these seats will become ill or experience adverse effects now or later in life, nor that parents should not use car seats, which can save lives.

In fact, the information on the HealthyStuff.org website is provided so consumers can make educated choices and purchases. Individuals can even buy their own home test kits for lead and other toxins if they desire. The website offers consumers a convenient, comprehensive place to arm themselves with information about the products they want to buy. It also invites consumers to take action and urge government officials and manufacturers to phase out lead, arsenic, and other hazardous substances from consumer products.