March Badness? Toxic chemicals found in university fan gear
March Madness rivalry is heating up at HealthyStuff.org. Which universities sport the most toxic memorabilia? And which retailers are keeping the most toxic university products on their shelves?
A total of 65 products were tested representing 19 U.S. universities. These products were purchased from 7 retailers, including Home Depot (7), Kroger (8), Pro Image Sports (5), Target (15), UConn Co-op Bookstore (4), Walgreens (12), and Walmart (14).
Of the 18 products screened for phthalates, 16 tested positive for the presence of phthalate plasticizers banned by CPSC in children’s products.
71% (46 of 65) of the products contained at least one or more chemicals of concern, such as lead, mercury, phthalates, and toxic flame retardants.
Over one third (25 of 65) of the products contained at least two or more chemicals of concern.
Approximately 34% of the products tested (23 of 65) contained chlorine levels above 3,500 ppm, suggesting the use of chlorinated flame retardants or PVC.
Six of the products tested had bromine levels above 400 ppm, suggesting the use of brominated flame retardants. The highest level of bromine detected was 5,027 ppm on a University of Michigan Jersey purchased at Target.
Five of the products tested contained lead above 100 ppm and the University of Michigan Jersey that had high levels of bromine also contained 131 ppm of lead in the ink print.
A Michigan State University Seat Cushion contained high levels of both cadmium (226 ppm) and lead (176 ppm).
Two products tested had high levels of arsenic
University of Michigan Keychain with Carabineer (125 ppm)
University of Minnesota Premium Acrylic Key Ring (246 ppm)
A University of Michigan Deluxe Key Ring contained 1,230 ppm of mercury
Healthier Alternatives Found in the Study
A variety of products highlight that safer alternatives are already on the market. Over 20 products rated of low concern and they illustrate a range of approaches and materials choices manufactures have taken to produce healthier products. Many of these products avoid the use of flexible vinyl which often contains hazardous additives.