The shiny new lunchbox that makes your child so proud? It may contain high levels of phthalates, chemicals that were banned from toys and have been linked to multiple health problems, according to a new report from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The report found that lunch boxes, backpacks, and 3-ring binders made of PVC (also known as vinyl) can contain elevated levels of phthalates, LAWeekly reported. Here's more:
The study tested 20 children's products now on store shelves, all popular back-to-school purchases, and discovered that 75% contained elevated levels of phthalates, a class of chemical considered hazardous even at low levels of exposure. Phthalates are used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and are contained in hundreds of other products, including food packaging, detergents, shower curtains, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
CHEJ found high levels of phthalates in the Disney Princess Lunchbox, the Amazing Spiderman Lunchbox, the Access Bag N Pack Lunch Bag, and the Amazing Spiderman Backpack, among other products.
Scientists disagree about the effects of phthalates in humans, but studies link them to a range of health problems including asthma, developmental delays, and diabetes. Schumer is co-sponsor of the Safe Chemicals Act, which would give the Environmental Protection Agency more authority to regulate chemicals in consumer products.
CHEJ offers this guide to help parents choose vinyl- and PVC-free school supplies.
Image: Spiderman Backpack via CHEJ