Summer Seasonal Products Data Results

For this study, Healthy 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.

Key Findings:

  • 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 that include:
  • About 44% of the products (53 of 121) contained chlorine at levels indicating the use of PVC, a plastic which often contains hazardous additives.
    • Half of the products (15 of 30) tested positive for the presence of seven phthalates regulated by the CPSC (above 10,000 ppm). A subset of the PVC-material products were tested for phthalates using a portable FTIR analyzer.
  • About 17% of the products (20 of 121) contained antimony (Sb) based flame retardants (Sb > 100 ppm) and 27% of the products (33 of 121) contained organotins (tin above 100 ppm)
  • 13 of the 121 products (11%) contained bromine above 400 ppm, suggesting the use of brominated flame retardants.
  • 22 of the products (18%) contained chromium in levels above 100 ppm.

What are the hazards of phthalates?

Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals that add flexibility and resilience to many consumer products. Phthalate plasticizers are not chemically bound to PVC, and can leach, migrate, or evaporate into indoor air and atmosphere, foodstuff, and other materials. Phthalates have endocrine-disrupting properties, meaning that they can disturb normal hormonal processes, often at low levels of exposure (EPA 2007). Human exposure can occur by eating and drinking foods that have been in contact with containers and products that contain phthalates, by breathing air that contains phthalate vapors (CDC, 2013), and through dermal exposure (Heudorf, 2007). Infants and children are exposed to phthalates when mouthing plastic toys or using a plastic eating containers (EPA 2007). The two most common phthalates used in childrens products are are Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) and Diisononyl phthalate (DINP).

Other common phthalates found in consumer products are Dimethyl phthalate (DMP), Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), Diethyl phthalate (DEP), Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), and Di-n-octylphthalate (DNOP). Of particular concern are DEHP and benzylbutyl phthalate (BBP), and DBP, and very likely DEP. Both DEHP and BBP are primarily used as plasticizers in polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based plastics, as well as other flexible plastics, and found in some tablecloths, furniture, vinyl flooring, shower curtains, wall papers, garden hoses, inflatable swimming pools, plastic clothing such as raincoats, children's toys, automobile upholstery and tops, medical tubing, and blood storage bags. DEP and DBP are used in non-plastic consumer items as fixatives, detergents, lubricating oils, and solvents and can be found in carpets, paints, glue, insect repellents, time release capsules, and personal care products such as soap, shampoo, hair spray, nail polish, deodorants, and fragrances. CPSC recently reviewed the health impact for some of the major phthalates (Babich, 2010 ).

Study Methodology:

Two test instruments were used for the study, a High Definition X-Ray Florescence (XRF) analyzer by XOS Optics and a portable Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) by Agilent technologies. The XRF analyzer was used to screen for common heavy metals and halogens. The FTIR was used to study the presence of phthalates in PVC materials. The FTIR is a rapid, non-destructive pre-screening instrument that can measure levels of phthalates in plastics to levels as low as 0.1%. The results provided by the FTIR gives a total phthalate concentration for the area tested. This is an aggregate percentage reading for the 7 phthalates banned by the CPSC.

Click here to see the results of this study

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