Walgreens, will you Mind the Store?

Walgreens is the nation’s largest drugstore chain. While other leading retailers such as Target and Walmart have begun to take action on toxic chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects in products they sell, Walgreens is unfortunately lagging behind. For this study, purchased and tested 44 products (household, kitchen, bathroom supplies, pet toys and children's products) from Walgreens between January and March of 2014. The study shows a range of products Walgreens sells contain one or more toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals include PVC, phthalates, organotins and heavy metals that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity, and cancer.

Summary Findings:
  • About 30% (13 of 44) of the products contained chlorine above 3,500 ppm, suggesting the use of PVC, a hazardous plastic.
    • Of the 13 vinyl products screened for phthalates, all 13 tested positive for the presence of regulated phthalates at levels greater than 10,000 ppm.
  • About 27% (12 of 44) of the products contained antimony based flame retardants, while 20% (9 of 44) contained organotins( > 100 ppm)
  • One product, a package of pet tennis balls, contained lead above 100 ppm, exceeding the CPSC limit set on children’s products.
  • 1 of 44 of the products contained Br above 400 ppm, suggesting the use of brominated flame retardants.
Select Products

Phthalate Results:

Products were purchased (in Michigan) and analyzed in March 2014 by using two types of spectroscopy, High definition X-ray fluorescence (HDXRF) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), to obtain spectrum of absorption or emission from substrate materials on each product. These are non-destructive methods which allow for the rapid screening of certain toxic chemicals in consumer products and are methods used by US CPSC and many manufacturers to screen consumer products for chemical hazards. Additional testing was conducted on select products by organic solvent extraction and GCMS according to CPSC methods (CPSC-CH-C1001-09.3) at a CPSC certified lab.

What do these results mean?

Our testing found a variety of products contained chemicals of concern at levels restricted in one or more of the most protective regulatory, corporate and third-party restrictions on hazards in consumer products. consulted existing voluntary standards - as well as mandatory toy, packaging, electronics, and vehicle standards - to establish hazard levels considered low, medium, or high for the chemicals of concern.

Some of the most restrictive standards for lead and other metals as well as phthalate plasticizers are set be the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for children’s toys (12 and under). While many of the products tested may not be considered a children’s toy or product, the CPSC standard is a useful comparative benchmark.

Children’s toys can contain no more than 100 ppm of total lead content in the substrate material or 90 ppm in a surface coating. The CPSC has also permanently banned three types of phthalates (Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate(DEHP), Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), benzylbutyl phthalate (BBP)) in children’s toys and on interim basis has banned three phthalates (Diisononyl phthalate (DINP), DIDP, Di-n-octylphthalate (DNOP)) in childcare articles. Toys and infants products can contain no more than 0.1% (1,000 ppm) by weight of any of the listed phthalate plasticizers.

Click here to download our Walgreens Fact Sheet

Mind the Store is a national campaign challenging the nation’s top ten retailers to reduce the prevalence of toxic chemicals in consumer products. Since April 2013, over 60,000 Americans have written to Walgreens urging them to phase out toxic chemicals in the products they sell.

To learn more about the Mind the Store campaign, visit:

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