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Posted on Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

Toxic toys? Report finds hazardous chemicals in common products

By Cindy Heflin

That rattle your baby is chewing on might be hazardous to her health.

At least that’s what a report released today says. It found more than 650 brand-name children’s products, including popular Playmobil play sets and Chicco baby rattles contain BPA or bisphenol A, a toxic chemical that was banned in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups.

Coinciding with the release of the report, Michigan Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, is introducing legislation that would require public disclosure of chemical ingredients in children’s products in Michigan. The proposed legislation is similar to a law already in place in Maine.


Chicco Alfa rattle.

Today’s report, Poison in Paint, Toxics in Toys, was released by the Environmental Health Strategy Center in Maine. Besides detailing children’s products containing BPA, it also listed household paints, cleaners, wood finishes and other home maintenance products that contain NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates).

The Food and Drug Administration has said that low levels of exposure to BPA are safe. However, studies suggesting it may be harmful to the brain, behavior and prostate glands in fetuses, babies and young children have prompted it to further investigate what it calls "key questions" and "uncertainties" about the chemical's risks.

The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, in announcing Warren’s legislation, said studies have shown that BPA and NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates) mimic the sex hormone estrogen.

The Environmental Protection Agency says NPEs are extremely toxic to aquatic organisms. The Ecology Center said NPEs degrade into a long-lived chemical that builds up in the food chain and may harm reproduction and development in humans.


Rebekah Warren

Industry advocates dispute the health risks of NPEs. A Dow Chemical product safety assessment dated October 2010 said the results of numerous mammalian toxicity studies conducted on nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE), support the conclusion that human safety should not be a concern for these compounds.

The Safe Children’s Products Act, being introduced by Warren would, according to the news release:

  • Require Michigan to create a list of chemicals of concern in children’s products, based on sound science.
  • Require toy importers and large manufacturers to disclose the presence of chemicals of greatest concern in their children’s products.

Sixteen small businesses and manufacturers recently joined together and signed a letter to the Michigan Senate, urging legislators to support policies like the Safe Children’s Products Act, the Ecology Center’s news release said.

“This holiday season, we all want to give gifts that are safe,” Warren said in the news release. “The Safe Children’s Product Act would give Michigan families access to the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions and avoid children’s products that contain harmful chemicals.”



Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 11:32 p.m.

All I can say is this. OMG!!! I can't believe I am reading this. I grew up on tainted rattles and probably our child too. Will the government go so far as to tell us how to raise them as well? Get out of my babies room and her playroom too. Cannot believe I am reading this.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

jns... I read your comment, and I can't believe I'm reading this. Do you want your kids to develop problems in their bodies that will impede normal development and perhaps lead to brain and other organ damage? What kind of parent doesn't care if their kids are poisoned on a regular basis by toxic toys? I agree with your response: OMG!!!


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

It would be really useful to have a simple testing kit that one could buy with which to surface test products for the presence of a range of these toxic compounds. would provide a real service if they could direct us to such a product in a story such as this, or research who is working on such a product for the market.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

I am shocked to hear this so close to the holiday, most people have already bought there toy's and such. This report should have came out in the early fall, and these imported toys should have been inspected in Customs. This is very lame for these items to be marked after they hit the shelves. There is something very fishy here, and the government authorities should've been more attentive on this stuff. This is not the first time, nor second for that matter, so it's not like it never happened before. China sends all there cheaply, and slave made junk here to unload it on the US "unaware idiots", who buy just to fill a list of presents to fulfill there duty. Our government has to be found responsible for this junk making it threw Customs.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 12:06 a.m.

Well, I'm no genius, but I knew about this crap for years, and it has been covered many times in the press. I guess there might be some "US 'unaware idiots'", but if you wanted to, you could have known this earlier this year and not had to buy poisonous toys.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 8:48 p.m.

I import pigments used in paint, coatings, plastics. They are manufactured in China in our facility. We employ quite a few people here in MICHIGAN the WORLD HEADQUARTERS of this Corporation, a few more at our offsite manufacturing here in Michigan and then again in Chicago in 2 different warehouses. Also we PAY for all of our stuff to be TESTED at Duke University. Your ignorance that China sends everything bad to the poor unaware idiots, speaks volumes. All you have to do is choose to do business with a company that will hold their subcontractors to a higher standard, also get their materials tested by a third party. So you see from my paragraph, you just took swipes on Michigan Jobs, Illinois Jobs, jobs at Duke, and then you forgot the 6.5% Duty rate we pay to bring it in (yep those Ports employ people too), along with paying Customs Brokers and Trucks to get it to the warehouses and then the trucks to get it to US Manufacturers. Get educated before you speak please, surely somewhere out there is someone who might actually believe you and you sir are WRONG!


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

Made in PRC of course.