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Toxins Found in School Supplies

Posted on August 30, 2012
by Wendy Stackhouse


Have you done your back-to-school shopping yet? Our children started 3 weeks ago (I know!) so we are all done, but now I’m going back to check on what we bought because of a report that was published this week by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) about phthalates in vinyl school supplies.

Normally, we would think about what character a child wants on her lunchbox or what color he wants his binders to be, but bags, binders and backpacks can contain these dangerous chemicals. Luckily, there are alternatives.

What products contain Phthalates?

According to this Hidden Hazards report, 75% of ” children’s “back-to-school” supplies tested in a laboratory had elevated levels of toxic phthalates, including popular Disney, Spiderman, and Dora branded school supplies, such as vinyl lunchboxes, backpacks, 3-ring binders, raincoats, and rainboots.”

If these products were toys, they would be illegal, but their danger is even greater, in my opinion, since they are used every day and some have direct contact with food.

The CHEJ has also published a guide to buying phthalate-free school supplies that you can read HERE. Some highlights:

  • Anything labeled “vinyl” could contain phthalates.
  • Check the recycling symbol for a “3” or the letters “V” or “PVC”
  • If you cannot tell whether a product contains PVC, email or call the manufacturer or the store and ask what the product is made of.

All of us are used to choosing school supplies based more on the preferences of our students than by the materials they are made from, but the levels of chemicals combined with the heavy use of these items warrant more time put into research and careful buying.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other enviromental challenges. She has two Middle Schoolers.

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