2013 Fall Product Screening

What did we test?

  • tested 143 consumer products, ranging from household, kitchen, outdoor and office supplies to exercise equipment, clothing and jewelry. These products were purchased from 11 national retailers including the Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., Dunham's Sports, Home Depot, K-Mart, Lowes, MC Sports, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Claire’s Stores, Inc., and Icing.
  • conducts independent, scientific testing of everyday consumer products for chemical hazards and translates those test results into an easy-to-use consumer guide. is a project of the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based, nonprofit environmental organization.

What chemicals did we test for?

  • tested a variety of distinct products for chemicals based on their toxicity or suspected toxicity, persistence, and/or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals, including lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (PVC), cadmium, arsenic, tin (organotins), and phthalates have also been linked in animal and some human studies to long-term health impacts such as asthma, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.
  • conducted limited sampling of these products for phthalates. Phthalates are chemical additives used to soften PVC products such as table cloths, garden hoses and vinyl fabrics, which can be released from PVC into the air and dust.
  • measured the presence of metals, chlorinated and brominated compounds with a High Definition XRF analyzer, a proven, accurate method for identifying elements in products. Our results are given in the unit, parts per million (ppm). Phthalates were analyzed by a contract lab using Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) method CH-C1001-09.3.

What did we find?

  • More than three quarters (115 of 143) of the products contained at least one or more chemicals of concern at detectable levels (>40 ppm).
  • One-third (47 of 143) had three or more chemicals of concern at detectable levels.
  • Halogenated plastics and flame retardants were found in large numbers of products:
    • About 46% (66 of 143) contained PVC or chlorinated flame retardants (chlorine above 3,500 ppm)
    • 9% (13 of 143) contained brominated flame retardants (bromine above 400 ppm)
  • Hazardous heavy metals were also found in these products:
    • 23% (33 of 143) had levels of antimony above 100 ppm
    • 36% (51 of 143) had levels of tin above 100 ppm
    • 7% (10 of 143) had levels of lead above 100 ppm

Product Highlights

Clothing and Accessories:

Kitchen Supplies:

  • Our survey of four kitchen utensils found BFRs in two, in a Slotted Spoon and a Slotted Turner.
  • These finding mirror a 2013 study from Europe which found select kitchen supplies, such as kitchen utensils, contained BFRs.

Phthalate Results

Some of the products in this survey were sent to an external lab to test for the presence of phthalates. We found phthalates in a range of products, including 3lb Dumbbells, Earphones and vinyl flooring made by Armstrong, the Royelle Sheffley and Sentinel Stone. Phthalate results

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