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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Study Toxic chemicals 'even follow us into the outdoors'
August 8, 2013
New Study of Picnic Supplies Finds Lead, Phthalates, Hazardous Flame Retardants, Organotins and Other Harmful Ingredients
Mind the Store Calls on Top Ten Retailers to Phase Out Toxics
(Ann Arbor, MI) -- Researchers released a new study of chemical hazards in
picnic products sold at top ten national retailers, finding most have one or
more hazardous chemicals linked to serious health problems. The nonprofit Ecology
Center tested 58 common outdoor picnic products for substances that have been
linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems,
liver toxicity and cancer. Products tested included tablecloths, placemats,
picnic baskets, coolers, water toys, folding chairs and umbrellas purchased
from 8 of the top 10 national retailers: Lowes, Home Depot, Walgreens, CVS,
Target, Walmart, Kroger and Costco. The results were released today on the
easy-to-use consumer website - www.HealthyStuff.org - which also includes prior
research on toys, car seats, pet products, cars, women’s handbags, back-to-school
products and children’s car seats.
If you live in the Great Lakes region or if you've spent some time here you know how beautiful the rolling sand dunes are, how vast the water is, and how delightful it is that our "inland sea" is sweet and not salty.
Through our research at HealthyStuff.org, we've learned that the chemicals that are in our products end up in our homes and then in the environment. That's one reason we've partnered with the Mind the Store campaign to craft this mini-report that highlights some of the new science around toxic chemical pollutants in the Great Lakes, including the nasty “PBT” chemicals that stay in the environment, to “emerging contaminants” like Triclosan, which are rapidly rising as Great Lakes pollutants.
Toxic chemicals have a variety of routes they travel: some are released directly from manufacturing sites or creep their way out of landfills into the ground water, rivers and lakes, while others are the result of legacy pollution from days past. So we mapped out where the Hazardous 100+ chemicals have been found in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern to illustrate this legacy of pollution.
Hazardous Chemicals found in Gardening Water Hoses
May 7, 2013
Hoses Can Leach Phthalates and BPA into Water, Study Finds
Retailers Called on to Stop Selling Products
High levels of hazardous chemicals, many of which have been banned in children’s products, were found in garden hoses for the second year in row. Phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were all found in the water of a new hose after sitting outside in the sun for just a few days, according to researchers at the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, which has just completed a study of toxic chemicals in garden hoses.
The study is a follow-up to a 2012 study that tested 90 garden water hoses. This year, 21 garden hoses were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC); phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). These chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems. Results were released today at www.HealthyStuff.org.
Clearing the shelves: Join us in asking retailers to mind the store!
April 11, 2013
We were thrilled when the Safe Chemicals Act was introduced in Congress earlier this week. The proposed legislation would restrict the usage of hazardous chemicals and hold chemical companies responsible for ensuring the safety of new chemicals.
Now, we are proud to announce that, as reported inUSA Today, we are part of a coalition of groups that launched a campaign this week asking major retailers to phase out potentially toxic chemicals from their shelves (we're calling it the "Mind the Store" campaign). You can join us by taking action here.
We are frustrated with the EPA’s current lack of power to collect data and regulate toxics. To help retailers Mind the Store, the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition has created a list of priority chemicals that we're urging them to phase out. The list focuses on chemicals widely used in consumer products, with strong evidence of their toxicity, and an emphasis on chemicals that have the potential to disrupt the health of our families - known carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxicants and endocrine disruptors.
The case control study, involving 1005 women with breast cancer and 1147 without the disease, revealed that women who worked in jobs classified as highly exposed for 10 years increased their breast cancer risk by 42%.
iPhone 5 Ranks Higher than Galaxy S III in New Study on Toxic Chemicals in Mobile Phones
October 3, 2012
For the first time the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center teamed up with technology
gurus at ifixit.com to research toxic chemicals in 36 different cell phones,
including the recently released iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III. The results
were released today at www.HealthyStuff.org and
The Motorola Citrus ranked the least toxic phone followed by the iPhone 4 S and the LG Remarq. The new iPhone 5 ranked 5th, versus its primary competitor, Samsung Galaxy S III, which ranked 9th. The most toxic phone tested was the iPhone 2G. The full list of rankings can be found at HealthyStuff.org.
Every phone sampled in this study contained at least one of following hazardous
chemicals: lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium. These hazardous substances
can pollute throughout a product’s life cycle, including when the minerals
are extracted; when they are processed; during phone manufacturing; and at
the end of the phone’s useful life. Emissions during disposal and recycling
of phones as electronic waste, or “e-waste,” are particularly problematic.
The mining of some tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold used in mobile phones
has been linked to conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A 2004 study found that three-quarters of all cell phones leach lead at levels that would qualify them as hazardous waste. While tracking e-waste is difficult, it is estimated that 50-80% is exported to countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Phillipines, where there is a labor-intensive, informal recycling infrastrucure that often lacks environmental and human health safeguards.
Suggested mobile phone recyclers: Go to e-stewards to find a responsible recycler. The companies below have signed the e-stewards pledge to not export e-waste to developing countries:
Capstone Wireless – Use their website to request a free UPS shipping label. They have a buy back program, so you may get money back for your old phone.
Call2Recycle – The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp also accepts old cell phones for free recycling. They have drop off sites in many cities (usually in stores). Use their location finder to enter your zip code to find the closest.
Today HealthyStuff.org, Healthy Child Healthy World and the Ecology Center applaud Graco Children’s Products, Inc. for committing to ban the use of four of the most toxic chemical flame retardants from all of their products. Graco is one of the nation's largest children's product manufacturers, selling nearly 1 out of every 3 baby-gear products purchased in the U.S.
In response, Graco has committed to ban and monitor four Tris and related chemicals, specifically:
“Tris,” chemicals including TDCPP (Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate) and TCEP (Tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate),
TCPP (Tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate), which is structurally similar to the “Tris” compounds,
All three Tris chemicals are either carcinogens or suspected carcinogens, and
Firemaster 550, a chemical mixture containing ingredients that have been targeted for review by EPA due to widespread exposure and potential health risk, is also on Graco’s ban list.
While recognizing that eliminating these toxic flame-retardant chemicals puts Graco ahead of most other children’s product makers, advocates also urged the company to take additional steps to ensure their products no longer contain any hazardous chemicals. Specifically, Graco is being asked to disclose chemicals contained in their products and develop an alternatives assessment system to ensure chemicals are inherently safer and lower hazard.
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.