Hidden Dangerous Chemicals in Popular Halloween Costumes and "Trick or Treat" Bags

October 23, 2014

Study Finds Costumes and Party Supplies Sold by Top Retailers Contain Hazardous Additives in Costumes and Accessories

HealthyStuff.org tested 106 Halloween related products, including costumes, accessories, decorations and party favors. Make-up and face paints were not sampled. Specifically we tested:

  • 44 Costumes
  • 40 Accessories
  • 22 Decorations and party favors

Our testing found heavy metals and other additives are commonly found in Halloween costumes and accessories. These chemicals include lead, flame retardants, tin compounds and phthalates -- harmful chemicals that are linked to asthma, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer.

Media Resources:

Product highlights:

CVS Retailed

Kroger Retailed

Party City Retailed

Target Retailed

Walgreens Retailed

Walmart Retailed

Check-up on Fall Children's School Supplies

September 4, 2014

For this study, HealthyStuff.org tested 101 children’s school supplies, including a variety of backpacks, binders, lunch boxes, pencil pouches and rulers. These products were purchased from 8 national retailers: CVS, Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., Kroger, Meijer, Target, Walgreens and Walmart.

Key Findings:

  • Four of the products were selected for phthalate plasticizer testing:
    • A Rainbow Animal Print Backpack by Pro Sport, retailed by Kroger, contained 5.4% DEHP--a phthalate banned by the U.S. CPSC--in the backpack textiles.
    • The other three products contained non-phthalate plasticizers DOTP and tributyl acetyl citrate
  • 6% (6 of 101) of the products contained Pb above 100 ppm, exceeding the CPSC limit set for children’s products.
  • A compass purchased at Target contained 20,316 ppm of Pb (in the tip of the compass).
  • A rainbow animal print backpack purchased at Kroger had 967 ppm of Pb.

Graco My Size 65 Car Seat Test Results Released

July 11, 2014

As part of our 2014 car seat screening project HealthyStuff.org tested the Graco My Size 65 Convertible Car Seat for chemical hazards. This is the first of series of test results we will be releasing this year.

We are particularly interested in identifying the flame retardant chemistry used in car seats. Our test found two flame retardants in this product:

  • Thin PU foam layer (laminated to green textile): Triethyl phosphate, Tris (2-butoxyethyl) phosphate (TBEP)
  • EPS foam: 5,110 ppm Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD)

HBCDD has been found to present human health concerns based on animal test results which indicate potential reproductive, developmental, and neurological effects. Due to its persistence, toxicity, and ecotoxicity, a global ban on HBCD is occurring under the framework of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

TBEP is an alkyl phosphate flame retardant whose safety has not been fully tested. The long-term toxicity and carcinogenicity of TBEP have not been studied.

Remember: Always use a car seat! Car seat are vital safety devices and regardless of our test results you should always use a car seat with your child.

Please consider supporting our car seat testing project through our Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign. The more we raise the more we can test!

Study finds summer seasonal products contain phthalates and other harmful chemicals

July 4, 2014

For this study, Healthy Stuff.org purchased and tested 121 consumer products that include common products used in the household, outdoors, and for 4th of July festivities. These products were purchased in national retailers, including Target, Walmart, Kroger, Meijers, Big Lots, Walgreens, and CVS.

About 12% of the products (15 of 121) contained lead (Pb) above 100 ppm, exceeding the CPSC limit set on children’s products. These products are popular items currently sold at major retailers for summer outdoor activities including picnic supplies, beach/pool gear and 4th of July accessories.

HealthyStuff.org launches crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to test children's car seats!

June 2, 2014

You asked, and we listened!

HealthyStuff.org is launching a crowdfunding campaign via IndieGoGo to help fund the testing of children's car seats this summer! With your wonderful support, we plan to test between 15 - 20 of the newest car seat models. In a 2011 study, HealhthyStuff.org tested over 150 car seats and found more than half (60%) contained at least one of the following chemicals: bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers); lead; other heavy metals, and allergens. It's 2014 and it's time for a fresh batch of car seats to test. Companies such as Graco, Orbit Baby, Britax and Clek have released statements that they are phasing out the use of these toxic chemicals from their car seats. But the only way to find out is to put them to the test, which is what we plan to do this summer!

We really hope we can complete this important study as it will not only provide valuable information to you but also pressure car seat manufacturers to phase out these toxic chemicals and replace them with healthier alternatives. You'll not only be helping us, but also help protect the health of children!

Click here to donate!

IMPORTANT REMINDER: CAR SEATS SAVE LIVES. ALWAYS USE CHILD SAFETY SEATS, REGARDLESS OF THE RATINGS AT HealthyStuff.org. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE SAFE USE OF CAR SEATS, SEE CAR-SAFETY.ORG OR THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS.

New study shows toxic chemicals in everyday items from Walgreens

April 16, 2014

HealthyStuff.org tested home goods, pet products, children’s products purchased at Walgreens for toxic chemicals

Healthystuff.org purchased pet products, children’s products, and other home goods from Walgreens stores and tested the products for hazardous chemicals, including arsenic, lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium. The study is part of ongoing research at HealthyStuff.org (a project of the Michigan-based nonprofit organization, the Ecology Center) on harmful chemicals in consumer products that are sold by each of the top ten U.S. retailers. Previous results can be viewed by retailer at the HealthyStuff.org Retailer Center.

Ecology Center researchers tested 44 products for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity, and cancer. 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.

Local advocates will release the study data and call on Walgreens to Mind the Store at a press conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

March Badness - Most Toxic Product Award Announced!

April 1, 2014

Over 2,000 March Badness fans voted in the past two weeks - The University of Florida Lunch Bag has won the Most Toxic Product award! The lunch bag contained levels of lead that exceed the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.

HealthyStuff.org tested 65 university-themed products (representing 19 universities) for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity, and cancer. The study found that over 71% of the products tested contained one or more toxic chemicals, including arsenic, lead, bromine, chlorine and mercury and cadmium. Several of the products tested routinely exceeded CPSC standards for lead (15%) and phthalates (16 of 18 tested).

The popular items HealthyStuff.org tested include banners, t-shirts, key chains, and drink koozies, purchased across the nation from different retailers.

Take a look at our "Who's in your bracket?" video and our EcoSports Center to learn more about these toxic products!

Mardi Gras Beads found to contain hazardous flame retardants and lead

February 26, 2014

A new HealthyStuff.org research study finds that top retailers of Mardi Gras beads continue to sell beads and throws containing hazardous chemicals. The study is a follow-up to a 2013 study that found similar results in used beads that were collected after Mardi Gras. In the last year, Ecology Center researchers tested a total of 135 Mardi Gras bead necklaces (87 previously used and 48 new) for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer.

HealthyStuff.org launches new Retailer Center

February 13, 2014

New website feature helps consumers look for products by popular retailers

Over the past few years, HealthyStuff.org has tested more than ten thousand consumer products for toxic chemicals. Today, we’re excited to launch a new feature on our website, the Retailer Center, which will make this information more accessible to you. On this page, you’ll find the toxicity rating of products sorted by popular stores, including top ten US retailers like Target, Walmart and Walgreens.

While some retailers have taken steps to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals in consumer products, our lab continues to find high levels of lead, chlorine and bromine in common outdoor, household and children’s products, others have more work to do. We think consumers like you deserve a right-to-know about toxic chemicals in the products you buy. Check out our new Retailer Center to see which leaders are leading the pack and which ones are laggards in getting toxic chemicals off their shelves.

We encourage you to use our Retailer Center to know which products to avoid and to join us in the Mind the Store national campaign to ask major retailers to stop selling these toxic products.

HealthyStuff.org wraps up 2013 with new product testing

December 20, 2013

HealthyStuff.org wraps up 2013 with a new study that continues to show how toxic chemicals are found in a range of consumer products. This winter screening joins a series of studies HealthyStuff.org has released in the past months showing how toxic chemicals continue to lurk in everyday consumer products.

This 2013 wrap up, which looked at over 100 consumer products from 9 national retailers, found that nearly a quarter of the products contain levels of lead that exceed 100 parts per million (ppm), the limit the Consumer Product Safety Commission has set for children's products. These high levels of lead were primarily found in holiday decorations, including holiday beaded garlands and outdoor lights. One of the products, a set of earphones purchased at Best Buy, contained 33% of lead by weight. This study also found high levels of arsenic, two of which were light fixtures containing arsenic levels above 1,000 ppm. Nearly a third of the products tested contained high levels of bromine (above 400 ppm) suggesting the use of brominated flame retardants (BFRs).

Electronic kids tablets tested for chemical hazards

December 16, 2013

Kids tablets test worse than mobile phones

A new study released by Michigan-based HealthyStuff.org today found lead, PVC and hazardous flame retardants contained in the interior components of some of the most popular electronic tablets for children. The study comes out just as many families are considering holiday gifts of electronic devices for their children. One hundred and three samples were analyzed in four tablets including the LeapFrog LeadPad 2 Explorer, Fuhu Nabi Jr., Kurio touch 4S, and the VTech InnoTab 3. Full test results are available at HealthyStuff.org.

Every tablet sampled in this study contained at least one of following hazardous chemicals: lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants - BFRs), and chlorine (PVC). These hazardous substances can pollute throughout a product’s life cycle, including when the minerals are extracted; when they are processed; during tablet manufacturing; and at the end of the tablets useful life. Emissions during disposal and recycling of tablets as electronic waste, or “e-waste,” are particularly problematic.

These products are very similar to smart phones. For comparison, Apple and other electronic industry groups consider a material PVC-free and BFR-free if it contains less than 900 ppm for bromine and 900 ppm for chlorine (Apple 2011). All tablets tested for this study contained multiple component samples that contained PVC and BFRs. When the tablets were compared to a HealthyStuff.org 2012 study that examined the toxic chemicals in 38 mobile phones, the tablets tested 50% worse (more hazardous) than recent model mobile phones.

Click below to view the rankings:

Fuhu Nabi Jr.

Kurio touch 4S

VTech InnoTab 3

LeapFrog LeapPad 2 Explorer

Is Your Christmas Tree Harboring Toxic Chemicals?

December 11, 2013

Study highlights long-lived hazards of poorly regulated chemical use

December 11, 2013 - New research has found thousands of pounds of hazardous chemicals in plastic beaded products, including beaded holiday garlands used on Christmas trees.

Non-profit Ecology Center researchers tested 19 beaded holiday garlands purchased from national retailers for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. The authors found, “these plastic bead products are being used as a dumping ground for old plastic waste, which is loaded with toxic chemicals.”

HealthyStuff.org tested the beaded products for chemicals based on their toxicity or their tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (PVC and chlorinated flame retardants), cadmium, arsenic, tin (organotins), phthalates and mercury. Children commonly get exposed by handling the beads and putting them in their mouths.

Holiday & Mardi Gras Beads Contain 1,000s of Pounds of Hazardous Chemicals

December 5, 2013

December 5, 2013

Lead and hazardous flame retardants from recycled plastics used as fillers

Study highlights long-lived hazards of poorly regulated chemical use

(Ann Arbor, MI) – New research finds thousands of pounds of hazardous chemicals in plastic beaded products, including beaded holiday garlands and Mardi Gras beads. The study is a collaboration between HealthyStuff.org (a project of the Ann Arbor-based nonprofit organization, the Ecology Center) and VerdiGras (a nonprofit organization in New Orleans dedicated to greening Mardi Gras). Researchers found most beads have one or more hazardous chemicals that have been linked to serious health threats.

“These plastic bead products are being used as a dumping ground for old plastic waste, which is loaded with toxic chemicals,” said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center ’s principle researcher. “We estimate that a single year ’s inventory of Mardi Gras beads may contain up to 900,000 pounds of hazardous flame retardants and 10,000 pounds of lead.” Gearhart and other researchers used electron microscope imagery to examine the interior and exterior of the beads. In addition, researchers compared the elemental composition of the beads to plastic waste streams, leading to the conclusion that recycled plastic waste is the most likely filler ingredient in the beads. In addition, plastic waste streams can contain the hazardous chemicals identified in the study.

Download Compete Study or High Resolution/Print Version

Fall 2013 product survey results released

November 15, 2013

Chemical hazards found in kitchen, exercise equipment, jewelry, consumer electronics, building and outdoor products

Some retailers responding, others remain silent

In the last few months HealthyStuff.org has conducted an informal study of a wide variety products types with a goal of assessing what hazards are still out there in the marketplace. We've analyzed 150 products for lead and metals, hazardous flame retardants and phthtalate plasticizers. What we found is that products with chemical hazards are still scattered throughout the economy, in a wide variety of types of products. We found cooking utensils with brominate flame retardants, lead in jewelry and hazardous plasticizers in flooring and exercise equipment. All of this show we still have work to do.

The good news is we now have major retailers, including Walmart and Target, stepping forward with proactive policies to address many of these chemical hazards. The bad news is we still have most retailers without publicly announced, proactive policies eliminate chemical hazards from the products they sell.

That’s where you come in. We believe that retailers and manufacturers should disclose the chemical composition and hazards of the products they sell. You can take action now and tell retailers you want chemical hazard disclosure and for them eliminate the worse of known hazards now.

Product Highlights

Red Belt with silver studs - nobo No Boundaries

Turquoise Stone and Leaf Ear Cuff - Icing

Slotted Turner - Cooking Concepts

Men’s Xtrainer Cross-Training Gloves - GoFit.net

Moms Demand Congress Clean Up Toxic Chemicals in 'Stroller Brigade' at Capitol

October 29, 2013

New HealthyStuff.org Testing Shows Phthalate Hazards in Vinyl Flooring and Other Common Products

Washington, DC – Hundreds of parents and their children descended on the nation's capital today, calling on Congress to protect their families from toxic chemicals. Today's “Stroller Brigade” for safer chemicals comes at a moment as the U.S. Senate makes its most serious attempt to reform federal laws in nearly forty years.

New product testing was also revealed at the event. The new data, commissioned by HealthyStuff.org and the Center for Health Environment and Justice, found common products with high levels of phthalates, a group of chemicals linked to hormone-disruption, cancer and infertility. Among the products were: dumbbells, over-the-ear earphones, vinyl flooring and a Spongebob Square Pants rain poncho for children.

A recent published study in the research journal Indoor Air highlighted the hazards of PVC flooring to children.

The study found: "Children who had PVC floorings in the bedroom at baseline were more likely to develop doctor diagnosed asthma during the following 10 years period when compared with children living without such flooring material. The risk was in several cases more than doubled."

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

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