Christmas shoppers beware! According to researchers from the Michigan-based nonprofit Ecology Center, one in three of more than 1,500 popular toys now on store shelves contain unacceptably high levels of potentially toxic chemicals. The group looked for chemicals associated with reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer—and it found plenty, including lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.
In coordination with more than a dozen other groups, the Ecology Center carried out the testing as part of its annual consumer guide to toxic chemicals in toys. The results—the good, the bad and the ugly—are posted online (searchable by product name, brand or toy type) at the HealthyToys.org website. Visitors to the website can also create a personalized holiday wish list that can be e-mailed to family and friends.
"Our hope is that by empowering consumers with this information, manufacturers and lawmakers will feel the pressure to start phasing out the most harmful substances immediately, and to change the nation's laws to protect children from highly toxic chemicals," the Ecology Center's Jeff Gearhart, who led the research, told reporters. "There is simply no place for toxic chemicals in children's toys."