American consumers are increasingly being informed of the dangers of toxic chemicals often found in plastics, including baby bottles, as well as chemicals that contaminate the foods we eat, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
These chemicals are also found in many baby toys.
Plastics used to make toys can
sometimes contain phthalates — synthetic compounds added to polyvinyl chloride, PVC, the third-most widely produced plastic. Phthalates are used to make plastic more soft, flexible, and durable.
Some phthalates have been linked to cancer and reproductive hormone imbalances in children. As plastics break down, they release increasing amounts of phthalates. Phthalates are currently being phased out in the United States, Canada, and the European Union.
Plastics used to manufacture toys can also contain BPA, bisphenol A, an industrial chemical often used to make food and beverage containers, and baby bottles.
BPA can seep into foods and beverages sold in plastics that contain the chemical, and it can also enter the human body when plastic products with BPA are handled.
The Department of Health and Human Services, and the Food and Drug Administration, both have stated concerns over BPA and its possible negative effects on the human brain, behavior, and the prostate glands of fetuses, babies, and children.
In light of all the reports that have been published recently about these dangerous chemicals that also take very long to degrade, a growing list of companies is stepping up to meet the increasing demand by American parents for natural, non-toxic toys, and environmentally friendly toys.
Green toys are not usually sold in stores where conventional toys are sold; but these days, you can find many green toy manufacturers online, offering an ample assortment of toys made from woods, non-toxic plastics, and natural or even organic fibers.
Items include: wooden rattles with non-toxic finishes, bamboo building blocks, organic-cotton dolls and stuffed animals, PVC- and BPA-free teething rings, bath toys, and other plastic toys.
Green toy manufacturers use recycled or recyclable non-toxic materials for their toys, thus minimizing impact on the environment. Water-based, metal-free paints are used; packaging and printed materials often use soy ink or water-based inks, which decompose more quickly than chemical inks.
The makers of green toys avoid what have at times been potentially fatal problems with conventional toys for young children, such as small, removable parts that could pose choking hazards. Toys have no sharp edges, and they’re big enough that they could not be swallowed.
Prices are reasonable, given the high quality of the products. They’re a bit pricier than non-green toys, but the fine craftsmanship of these toys makes them good heirlooms that can be passed down to younger siblings or relatives. Many manufacturers offer free shipping with minimum purchases.
One option that health- and safety-conscious parents who don’t want to overspend could consider is simply not buying as many toys, focusing instead on getting non-toxic, environmentally friendly toys that babies can gum and chew to their little hearts’ content, without the danger of toxic chemicals seeping into their vulnerable young systems.
By Lisa Pecos