Phthalates Found in School Supplies
Written by Faith Anderson on August 28, 2012
Consumer Advocates Call for Safeguards on Phthalates
The potential adverse health effects of phthalates, which are commonly used in soft vinyl plastics, are unclear, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Consumer advocacy groups, on the other hand, argue that the dangerous chemicals should be controlled. “While phthalates have been banned in children’s toys, similar safeguards don’t yet exist to keep them out of lunchboxes, backpacks and other children’s school supplies,” said Mike Schade of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, the organization that released the controversial phthalate report.
Report Finds High Levels of Phthalates in School Supplies
For the report, Schade and his colleagues tested a number of kids’ school supplies, including binders, backpacks, raincoats, lunchboxes and rubber boots, and found that three-quarters of the products contained phthalate levels that exceeded the 0.1% limit for toys imposed by federal regulators. “These dangerous chemicals manufactured by Exxon Mobil have no place in our children’s school supplies,” said Schade. “It’s time for Congress to move forward and pass the Safe Chemicals Act to protect our children from toxic exposure.” Phthalates were originally banned from children’s toys back in 2008, because they had the potential to leach from plastic that is sucked or chewed.
Potential Effect of Phthalates on Human Health Unknown
When it comes to phthalates in school supplies, Dr. Marcel Casavant, chief of pharmacology and toxicology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio had this to say: “Presuming kids aren’t eating, sucking or chewing on these products, I imagine the risk is pretty small.” However, eating food from containers that are made from phthalates can also lead to exposure, the CDC warns. And phthalate dust can be inhaled or transferred to children’s hands, where it may be ingested. In response to these concerns, Casavant said, “These chemicals have dramatic effects in some animal models at very high doses, but as far as links to human health, in most situations, we don’t really know much at all.”