Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is it really necessary to buy PVC-free & Phthalate-Free Toys?

Yes. When looking for Christmas gifts for little ones, think safe & toxic free. This year look for safe alternatives to the gifts you buy this year. Chances are you are buying for someone who is very special to you so look for something you can trust in their little hands.

What is PVC (PolyVINYL Chloride)?
Sometimes the toy or item is labeled with a '3' or 'V' in the recycling symbol at the bottom. It has been called the 'Poison Plastic' by many health experts and has recently been discovered through research that this chemical is associated with developmental damage, as well as damage to the liver, central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems.

What are Phthalates?
Phthalates is a group of chemicals that is often added to plastic to increase its flexibility (ie teethers). They have been shown to mimic hormones - which can potentially lead to serious health conditions in the future.

They are often found in PVC toys. Essentially any toy that has flexible plastic (ie toys) contains Phthalates. Even the flexible plastic-like fabric on toys contain this toxin.

Scary eh? It's horrible to think of how many toxic toys (of all things) are contributing to indoor air pollution & decreased health. Educate yourself - for your family's future and their health.

Oh ya, & for those of you who read my previous post about asthma - or anyone who wants to know about a contributor to this condition - check this finding out about the link between PVC, Pthalates & asthma:

' Children may be exposed to chemicals in many PVC consumer (such as vinyl shower curtains) and building products. For example, PVC is used in many building products such as flooring, siding, and wall coverings. A number of studies have found associations between PVC building products and asthma, a major concern for children.

For example in one study, workers in an office building were diagnosed with adult-onset asthma at a rate approximately 9 times higher than expected. High levels of VOCs were detected. The researchers concluded the most probable cause of this indoor air problem was the degradation of the PVC flooring.

A number of studies have also suggested a correlation between phthalates, PVC, and asthma. Most recently, a study published in 2008 found an association between concentrations of the phthalate DEHP in indoor dust and wheezing among preschool children in Bulgaria. Another study of 10,851 children found the presence of both floor moisture and PVC significantly increased the risk of asthma. PVC wall coverings have also been linked to asthma. A recent study from Finland found that adults working in rooms with plastic wall coverings were more than twice as likely to develop asthma. These researchers poined to other recent studies in children conducted in Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Russia that also found links between PVC, phthalates, and respiratory problems.'

This information comes from a reliable source, Mike Schade from CHEJ (Center for Health, Environment and Justice).


Monday, November 3, 2008

Shop safely this holiday season

I was watching some of my favourite shows tonight and couldn't help but notice that Halloween is barely over with and the holiday season is already getting started. I can't remember seeing two Christmas commercials in a row this early in the year - & I'm certainly not complaining! I absolutely love the holiday season. My daughter & I have already watched a handful of Christmas movies. But getting into this mode also makes me think about how tough it's going to be to shop for her and the other little ones in my life. With all the recalls that have been issued over the past year or so I'm always thinking in the back of my mind, "Is this really safe?".

So, I decided to do some research on what gifts are safe. I live in a community where organic & chemical-free products are not widely available so it makes it a little tougher to be able to find what I'm looking for. I'm not saying they are not available - they are just a little tougher to find in my neighbourhood, especially if you're not sure what you're looking for. So I started looking online for toys and clothing that are more eco-friendly and I realized a few things that I want to share with you, my fellow parents. They include:

~ Shop Local!: Now I understand it isn't always easy to ensure that each gift you buy is 'Made in Canada' however with all the recalls in China (that are still continuing to occur) I recommend steering clear of China-made products whenever possible. Keep in mind that many of the huge companies still produce their toys in China. So this year try to find locally made gifts this year - they will likely be safer (and much more unique!)

~ Buy from Local Independent Retailers: they are much more likely to carry safe products. They are often passionate about what they offer and can be a wealth of knowledge. Many offer organic and/or PVC and phthalate free items and purchase their stock from local sources.

~ Research (& do some shopping) Online: The web offers parents a wealth of information at their fingertips. Do your research (if you're reading this, chances are you already are!) & know what you're looking for.

~ Be prepared to spend a bit more: There's a reason that mass produced products are so cheap. They are often produced under unfair conditions & the quality of material used to create each one are compromised (ie lead based paint is cheaper). So instead of buying a pile of plastic toys that will fill our landfills and potentially disturb our clean air, go with the same budget & buy little less but feel good about what you are giving.

I will write more detailed entries about safe shopping this holiday season but I wanted to give you a few easy ways you can make a difference in the lives of the little ones you care about, simply by changing the way you think through educating yourself.