December 15, 2014
Jeff Gearhart, 734-369-9276/734-945-7738, email@example.com
Tony Iallonardo, 202-503-8581
Study Finds Toxic Chemicals in a Majority of Seasonal Holiday Products
String Lights and Beaded Garlands Still Most Hazardous Products
(Ann Arbor, MI) -- A new research study finds that top retailers of holiday
decor continue to sell seasonal products containing hazardous chemicals.
Researchers found that two-thirds of tested products had one or more hazardous chemicals
that have been linked to serious health effects. The study is an update to and expansion of
research done in 2010 and 2013 by HealthyStuff.org (a project of the Ann
Arbor-based nonprofit organization, the Ecology Center) which found high levels
of chemical hazards in light strings, holiday garland and other decorative
For this study, Ecology Center researchers tested 69 seasonal holiday products including beaded and tinsel garlands, artificial wreaths and greenery, stockings, figurines and other tabletop decorations, and gift bags. Products were tested for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. People can be exposed to these chemicals by breathing air or dust containing chemicals volitalized from the products or by handling them.
"We've been testing and finding similar problems with these products
since 2010. Most retailers have been slow to react and continue sell these
Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center's research director. Environmentalists
and public health advocates have called for retailers to work with suppliers
to eliminate these hazards and develop safer substitutes.
Thirteen percent of the 2014 holiday products contained lead above 100 ppm;
12% of the products contained more than 800 ppm bromine, indicating the
presence of brominated flame retardants. Beaded garlands were found to
contain a multitude of toxic contaminants, mirroring the results from the
2013 study of beaded garlands. Light strings were also compared to an earlier
study by HealthyStuff.org. The 2014 lights -- including lights attached
to decorations -- commonly showed high levels of lead and bromine, as did
the 2010 study.
"Parents shouldn't have to worry that their holiday decorations contain
chemicals like lead and toxic flame retardants," said Mike Schade, Mind
the Store campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. "Big
retailers should get these hidden hazards out of holiday decorations, once
and for all. When it comes to risking people's health, customers expect
their favorite retailers to mind the store."
HealthyStuff.org recommends common sense precautions when handling these products because they may contain hazardous substances.
- Do not allow children (or adults) to put small holiday ornaments in their mouths.
- Wash your hands after handling the holiday light strings.
- Frequent vacuuming and reducing levels of dust can reduce exposures to many of these chemicals of concern.
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