Other Chemicals of Concern

Antimony, Chromium, Tin

XRF measurements of toy components also revealed the presence of three other elements: antimony, chromium, and tin. See Rating System for HealthyStuff.org.

The XRF device can only detect elements. Thus, the actual form of the element in a compound cannot always be determined. The health effects information below is based on the elemental form and the compounds most likely to be present in the items tested.

Voluntary and mandatory safety standards for most of these chemicals have been published both in the U.S. and Europe for toys, computers, fabrics and leathers, office furniture and vehicles.

Below is a summary of general environmental and health concerns associated with these elements and related chemical compounds. The health concerns discussed below may be dependent on many factors, including actual exposure levels, the valence levels of the elements and/or the actual chemical compound used in a toy or children's product component.

HealthyStuff.org ratings do not provide a measure of health risk or chemical exposure associated with any individual toy or children's product, or any individual element or related chemical. HealthyStuff.org ratings only provide a relative measure of high, medium, and low concentrations of several hazardous chemicals or chemical elements in a toy or children's product in comparison to criteria established in the site methodology.

Antimony

Antimony is used as a catalyst in the production of polyesters. Antimony trioxide is also used in combination with brominated flame retardants to increase fire resistance. In our testing we found both lower levels of antimony (160-700 ppm range) that are consistent with polyester applications, as well as higher levels (2,000-5,000 ppm range) that may be consistent with flame retardant applications. In either case, it is possible that antimony is released from the plastic material. Para obtener más información en español Antimonio (Sb) | ATSDR - ToxFAQs™

Health Effects:

Depending on the form and levels of exposure:

  • Antimony trioxide is classified as a carcinogen in the state of California and has been listed as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the European Union.
  • In long-term studies, animals that breathed very low levels of antimony had eye irritation, hair loss, lung damage, and heart problems (ATSDR 1995).
  • Higher levels of antimony have been shown to cause fertility problems and lung cancer in animals (ATSDR 1995).
  • A recent report indicates that antimony may weakly mimic naturally-occurring estrogen. The human health implications of this discovery are unknown (Choe 2003)

Current Regulations for Products

  • The toy industry has established a voluntary migration standard (ASTM F973-07) for the amount of antimony that can migrate from toys of 60 ppm. The European toy industry has established a migration standard (EN 71) of 60 ppm for antimony.
  • On February 10, 2009 the CPSIA adopted the ASTM F973-07 levels for antimony and other metals (view ASTM standard) as a mandatory standard.
  • California restricts the amount of antimony that can be in the paints and coatings of certain consumer products.

Chromium

Chromium (Cr) is found in several forms in commercial products. It is used primarily as a elemental component in alloys and in stainless steel. Two forms, Cr (III) and Cr (VI), can also be used as pigments. Cr (III) is also used in leather tanning, and Cr (VI) in wood preservatives. Chromium compounds can also be used in textiles, and as catalysts (ATSDR - ToxFAQs™: Chromium and en espanõl).

Health Effects

The toxicity of chromium strongly depends on the oxidation state of this element; two of the most common forms are the less toxic Cr(III) or the highly toxic Cr(VI) state. XRF testing does not distinguish between oxidation states and only indicates the presence of the elemental chromium. While chromium is an essential nutrient, the most protective eco-label standards require the absence of chromium in leather tanning and fabric.

Depending on the form and the level of exposure:

  • Cr (III) is an essential trace element and nutrient for the body.
  • Some Cr (VI) compounds are considered known carcinogens as a result of increased lung cancer among exposed workers (ATSDR 2008).
  • Laboratory studies indicate that Cr (VI) may cause birth defects, and reproductive problems particularly in males (ATSDR 2008).
  • Higher levels of exposure have caused asthma attacks and nasal irritation in people (ATSDR 2008).

Current Regulations for Products

  • The toy industry has established a voluntary migration standard (ASTM F973-07) for the amount of chromium that can migrate from toys of 60 ppm. The European toy industry has established a migration standard (EN 71) of 60 ppm for chromium.
  • On February 10, 2009 the CPSIA adopted the ASTM F973-07 levels for chromium and other metals (view ASTM standard) as a mandatory standard.
  • Ninteteen states limit hexavalent chromium (CrVI) in packaging materials (TPCH 2007).

Tin

Tin in the form of organotins are used as stabilizers in PVC (vinyl) products, particularly in rigid PVC products (Modern Plastics Handbook 2000). They are also used as catalysts in silicone production.

Organic tin compounds often consist of one, two, or three organic molecules attached to an atom of tin. Those with one or two organic molecules are often used to stabilize PVC plastic and are more likely to be present in children's toys, whereas those with three organic molecules are primarily used as pesticides. (Modern Plastics Handbook 2000). Para obtener más información en español Estaño (Sn) | ATSDR - ToxFAQs™.

HealthyStuff.org tested products for tin, which may be in an organic or inorganic form.

Health Effects

Depending on the form and level of exposure:

  • Exposure to high levels of inorganic tin may cause symptoms including stomach aches, liver and kidney problems, and anemia (ATSDR 2005).
  • Organic forms, known as organotins, are believed to be toxic at lower levels of exposure.
  • Several tin compounds cause nervous system harm, including tributyl tin, dibutyl tin, trimethyl tin, and dimethyl tin (Cooke 2004, Jenkins 2004, ATSDR - ToxFAQs™: Tin). The developing brain is particularly vulnerable. Dibutyl tin is toxic to nervous system cells at concentrations similar to those found in people today (Jenkins 2004).
  • Some forms of organotin, like tributyl tin and dibutyl tin, are also toxic to the immune system (Cooke 2004)

Current Regulations for Products

  • The toy industry has not established a voluntary migration standard for the amount of tin that can migrate from toys.

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