Toxins Found In School Supplies

Study Focused On 20 Items That Were Purchased At Random

Toxic School SuppliesA new study released by the advocacy group Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) shows 75% of school supplies it tested in a laboratory setting contain high levels of potentially toxic phthalates. The study focused on 20 items that were purchased, at random, from retailers in the New York City area, but mostly manufactured in China.

"Our investigation found elevated levels of toxic phthalates widespread in children's school supplies, including Disney and Spider-Man lunchboxes and backpacks," said Mike Schade, PVC campaign director for CHEJ. "Unfortunately, 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."

Phthalates, which were banned for use in children's toys by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2008, are commonly found in consumer products, like detergents and cosmetics. Multiple studies have tied phthalates to birth defects, asthma and attention deficit disorder. The results of the CHEJ study have renewed calls for Congress to pass further regulations, especially those outlined in the Safe Chemicals Act, a measure that would grant greater testing authority to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"School supplies are supposed to help our children with their education, they shouldn't be harming their health," said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a co-sponsor of the legislation. "We don't allow high levels of these toxic chemicals in children's toys and we certainly shouldn't allow them in back-to-school products. When kids take their lunch to school this fall, they shouldn't be carrying it in a lunchbox laden with toxic chemicals."

Among the items tested in the CHEJ study, the Dora the Explorer Backpack scored particularly poorly, containing phthalate levels over 69 times the allowable federal limit for toys. The Amazing Spider Man Backpack and the Disney Princess Lunchbox were found to have phthalate levels that were over 52 times the limit and over 29 times the limit, respectively.