"All I Want for Christmas Is Lead-Based Fingerpaint?"
December 4, 2008
For Second Year, MomsRising.org Joins Forces With HealthyToys.org to Ensure Children Have a Safe and Healthy Christmas
Last August, Congress passed and the President signed a law prohibiting the sale of toys containing many dangerous toxins, but that law won’t go into effect until February. This leaves many toys containing dangerous toxins on the store shelves this holiday season. To help holiday shoppers preserve their peace of mind, MomsRising.org and HealthyToys.org have teamed up to give parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and others an easy way to avoid purchasing toys that contain dangerous chemicals.
All they need to do is text “healthytoys” and the name of a particular toy to 41411 to find out whether that toy contains toxic chemicals. MomsRising.org will respond instantly with a message, based on comprehensive tests of more than 1,500 toys featured on the online platform, HealthyToys.org. For example, if you text “healthytoys polly pocket car” to 41411, you’ll receive a text message back saying: “TOXIN LEVELS DETECTED - LOW: Polly Pocket Car Cool Friends by Mattel.”
The text messaging system uses a database developed by the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Michigan-based Ecology Center, which runs the HealthyToys.org web site and campaign.
“This year, in particular, parents want to be sure they’re getting the best deal for their children and toxic presents are not a good deal,” said MomsRising.org Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. “Last year, our text message system was very popular and we hope even more people are able to use it this year and ensure a happy, healthy and safe Christmas for their families and friends.”
Shoppers can also find out product ratings while they’re in the store by texting “healthytoys low [store name]” (e.g. Target) to 41411, and they’ll receive a message back with a list of the toys which are rated “low” for lower levels of toxic chemicals. People who shop online can visit www.healthytoys.org for the detailed results of all the testing. The web site lists toys by type and brand, or individuals can search for particular toys. For each of the 1,500 toys and children’s products tested, the web site provides an overall “low,” “medium,” or “high” rating indicating the levels detected of chemicals of concern. It also lists the individual levels detected for lead, cadmium, arsenic, PVC and other harmful chemicals.
“There is simply no place for toxic chemicals in children’s toys,” said Jeff Gearhart, Campaign Director of the Ecology Center, who led the research. “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.”
This year visitors to HealthyToys.org can also create personalized holiday wish lists to send to family and friends.
MomsRising.org has developed a flier about the web site and texting system, so that parents can alert their friends and neighbors to this easy-to-use and free information.
Researchers with the Ecology Center tested the toys for chemicals that have been associated with reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer; and for those that have been identified by regulatory agencies as problematic. Babies and young children are the most vulnerable populations because their brains and bodies are still developing, and because they frequently put toys into their mouths.