Let’s face it, despite all the stringent measures put in place to control the making of toxic toys, some of them still find their ways into stores. These unscrupulous manufacturers are normally placing the well-being of your children at significant risk in case you unknowingly buy any of such toys.
Being able to know which toys are toxic, and which ones aren’t, is, therefore, a skill that every parent must have. The good news is that you do not need a Ph.D. in Biochemistry to make the distinction. Just because the label on that toy says it's non-toxic does not always mean it is not.
This post on how to know when toys are toxic couldn’t have come at a better time. I will highlight the techniques you can use to know about the toys you shouldn’t get close to your child. In the end, you will be in a position to keep your kids out of harm’s way.
1. Keep In Touch With Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
CPSC is the agency charged with regulating the products which consumers use in the United States. Its task is to set regulations on what chemical manufacturers are not supposed to use, particularly on toys used by children.
Some of the rules to this effect include the crackdown on products with traces of lead. A newer law has also been enacted to compel toy makers and importers to certify that indeed the toys do not contain lead and any toxic chemicals. Even those who resell old toys have to comply.
Better still, there is a Congressional requirement in place to ensure all toys designated for use by children below the age of 12 to undergo tests by third-party labs. These are efforts in place to facilitate safe play between toddlers and babies.
Toys that do not meet these requirements are recalled, meaning that they shouldn’t be available in stores. A database of all the recalled toys is always available on their website for consumers to have a look at. I suggest you go through the list to confirm whether the suspicious toy you want to buy is on this list or not.
2. Check With The Ecocenter.org
If you are still worried about the possible presence of harmful materials in a toy and it’s not in the recalls list, then you can check out this website. It is a resource for parents and consumers who would like to know about the composition of different items.
This agency tests different toys, clothing, technology and baby products and then their composition gets listed on the website. Examples of the toxic chemicals contained include lead, bromine, chlorine, arsenic, antimony, tin, mercury and PVC.
3. Do A Lead Test Or Take The Toy To A Lab
The surest way of knowing whether a toy is genuinely toxic is to perform a test on it. Did you know that you can perform this test at home? Or you can take the toys (could be suspect) to a lab near you for more accurate tests.
There are a couple of Do It Yourself test kits that you can buy so that you test all painted toys for the presence of the highly toxic lead component. These kits have different working principles, but the most common ones require that you dip a Q-tipped swab into a vial solution and then rub the tip on the painted toy surface.
Repeat the rubbing for about 30 seconds. If there is lead metal in the paint, then the colour of the solution on the swab starts to change. Otherwise, it remains the same. However, there is a small bit of the unreliability when it comes to the accuracy of the kits.The Consumer Product Safety Commission has confirmed that some of these kits are indeed inaccurate. Generally, they should give you a slight indication of the toxicity level of the toy.
4. Check The List Of Chemicals On The Label
Before buying the toy, look for the label (if the toy maker is courteous enough to provide one). If there isn’t one, I don’t think there is any reason to buy it in the first place. You need to look for the known toxic substances, either banned by CPSC or in the Healthy.org database.
Here are some of the known toxins that you should look out for in a toy.
- Bisphenol A: This substance causes hormone disturbance and causes an array of health conditions. Examples include Down syndrome, early puberty and cancer.
- Lead: Causes brain impairment even in the smallest quantities.
- PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers): It serves the purpose of being a fire retardant in toys and consumer products. When ingested from toy mouthing, it threatens the development of the brain and the body as well.
- PVC: The use of PVC is a debatable one. Apart from being non-biodegradable, some agencies say that it has no apparent effect on the human body. However, there are groups which insist that the dioxins released from PVC are harmful when ingested. To be safe, I would suggest you stay away from it until these groups reach some consensus about its use.
- Phthalates: As well as being banned, this substance has a host of health complications ranging from premature birth to reproductive defects.
An alternative would be to buy non-plastic or painted toys, but this is sometimes easier said than done. If you must buy the toy, look for the “chasing arrow” found at the bottom of the toy. You would want to avoid the ones labelled with the numeric 1 indicating PET, 3 for PVC and 6 for Styrofoam. Another way of being safe is only to consider those marked as PVC and BPA-free.
5. Perform The Smell Test
Although not a conventional method or an accurate one for that matter, it can still be an option when it comes to knowing when toys are toxic. The presence of poisonous softeners used in the plastic emits a characteristic beach ball smell when new off the shelf.
The strong perfumes and fragrances tend to provoke asthmatic and allergy attacks when inhaled. The process of making of the scents probably involves the use of toxic substances which exposes your children to unknown and known side effects.
What Do You Do If the Toy Is Indeed Toxic?
This dilemma is one of the issues that parents always face. If you find that the toy you just bought is indeed toxic, the first thing you need to do is keeping it away from your child. Next thing, file a complaint with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).
It is then the responsibility of CPSC to gather any necessary information and determine whether to recall the toys or not. By recalling any product, it should not be sold in any store as it will be added to the recalls database.
Finally, you need to consult the agency or call the toy maker to see if you will receive any compensation for the inconvenience. It could be a refund or a replacement for the toy.
The safety of children is of utmost importance. It is always imperative that you consider this first before you any toy. Avoid the exposure of kids to such toxic or hazardous toys entirely.
I hope this article on how to know when toys are toxic has helped you a lot. Use the information it contains to help keep your little ones always ahead of fraudulent toy dealers.