Toxic Toys

Does your child play with Toxic Toys? Many toys found on the shelves of brand name retail stores are made of substances that can be hazardous to your child’s long-term health.

Some of the product ingredients found in toxic toys are not always chemically bound and can leach out onto your child’s hands or into the air she breathes.

Children are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of chemicals found in toys because their bodies are still growing and developing and because what children play with usually end up in their mouths.

The Truth about Toy Labels:

I was surprised to discover that the U.S. government does not regulate labels on toys and does not require manufacturers to disclose ingredients in most nonfood consumer products. So, companies are not required to tell consumers what toxic chemicals are used in their products.

Which means a nontoxic label on your child’s product does not guarantee that the toy does not contain toxic materials!!

Harmful Substances in Toxic Toys

Polyvinyl Chloride & Phthalates

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl) is the plastic used in cheap colorful toys like teethers, soft squeeze toys, plastic balls, bath toys, dolls and yes, the rubber ducky too.

In order to make the plastic soft and flexible, phthalates are added to PVC as “plasticizers”. Phthalates are not bonded to the plastic and can easily leach out when children suck or chew on a toy.

The chemicals have been associated with reproductive abnormalities and animal studies have linked prenatal exposure with decreases in testosterone, malformations of the genitalia, asthma and reduced sperm production (to name a few).

In 1995, Sweden banned all PVC products. In July 2005 the European Union permanently banned the use of a group of phthalates in children's toys.

U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) came out with their 24th Annual Survey of Toys in November 2009 with warnings about phthalates and other toxins in toys.

Anything that has a “new plastic” smell is probably made with phthalates.

Before buying a soft plastic item, especially a toy, call the manufacturer and ask them to verify that the product is phthalate or PVC Free.


Lead continues to be used in a wide variety of consumer products. Scientists have found there is no safe level of lead for children. The damage done by lead exposure (ingested or inhaled) is irreversible and can include impaired behavioral abilities, learning disabilities and brain damage in children.

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) website includes a lot of information on lead and its effects.

Many vintage toys contain lead so think twice before passing them on to your children.

The Center for Disease Control states “Lead-based paint remains the most common source of lead exposure for children under 6 years. However, one report determined that 34% of children under years with lead poisoning in Los Angeles County had been exposed to items containing lead that had been brought into the home that might include candy, folk and traditional medications, ceramic dinnerware, and metallic toys and trinkets”

In 2004, a child in Oregon had a high blood lead level (BLL) after ingesting a necklace with high lead content. The same year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled 150 million pieces of imported metallic toy jewelry sold in vending machines.

Death of a Child After Ingestion of a Metallic Charm --Minnesota, 2006

According to a 2007 study by the New York Times , testing revealed that stores still sold jewelry containing toxic lead levels.

Because it may be impossible to determine if your child’s jewelry is lead-tainted (unless you pay to have it tested), you should assume it is, throw it out and only buy jewelry from reputable stores.

Don’t Rely on Home Lead Testing Kits

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states “Only a certified laboratory can accurately test a toy for lead. Although do-it-yourself kits are available, they do not indicate how much lead is present and their reliability at detecting low levels of lead has not been determined.”

Call the National Lead Information Center to learn about testing 800-424-LEAD

Other Great Resources to Learn More about Toxic Toys an amazing organization focused on toy safety. The organization focuses on chemicals that can be detected by XRF technology: lead, cadmium, chlorine, arsenic, bromine and mercury.

They also have information on consumer products that contain chromium, tin, and antimony. There is a search box on their website that allows you to search for specific products or by manufacturer to see how safe they are.

Recalls for Toxic Toys

For information on all product recalls go to

You can stay informed on the latest toy recalls by adding your email address to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s free email list (choose the list named “child”) About once a week you will receive a short email with the pertinent details you need on where to send the toys for refunds and why the toxic toy was recalled.