’Tis the season for carefully examining the toys we buy for our children.
On Nov. 17, Clean and Healthy New York and the New York League of Conservation Voters released a list of nearly two dozen toys that allegedly contained unsafe levels of chemicals or metals currently stocked in stores.
Clean and Healthy New York’s list contained items that, on the surface, seem innocuous – key chains, charms, beads, hair clips, a luggage tag and jewelry. However, when the organization tested these items, they found chemicals such as arsenic, cobalt, mercury or lead. And yet, these items were found in stores such as Target, Party City and Ocean State Job Lots.
Naturally, we are very concerned about this because we thought in this day and age, it was understood by manufacturers that they shouldn’t use any toxic materials to make things for children. Then again, many of the items on Clean and Healthy New York’s list are made in China, which has different manufacturing standards than the United States. So unless China adopts the same standards as the U.S., we will continue to see these tainted items reach our store shelves.
It’s not as if the companies selling these goods on our shores care about what goes into them. Until Clean and Healthy New York’s study came out, consumers were probably none the wiser about what went into the hair clips they bought their young daughters or the key chains they gave to their young sons. They just saw them as interesting trinkets that their kids wanted. And as long as the companies made a profit on each sale, they weren’t going to demand a change in how the items were made.
At least, something may be done locally. Albany County has proposed a law that would fine stores for selling tainted items, but it has yet to pass it. If approved, the county would fine any store selling such items $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. It’s unlikely to be a deterrent for major stores such as Target and Party City, but it’s at least a step in the direction of holding store owners accountable for the goods they sell. Unfortunately, it does nothing to hold the manufacturers accountable.
So, be aware of what you’re buying your children for the holidays. Use Clean and Healthy New York’s list as a guide to steer clear of items that contain hazardous material, and let’s hope for the day when we won’t need this list.