New Report Reveals Toxic Chemicals Found in Children's Vinyl School Supplies
A new report, Hidden Hazards: Toxic Chemicals Inside Children’s Vinyl Back-to-School Supplies, was released in New York City today at a local Kmart where some of the school supplies were purchased for the report. The report reveals that toxic chemicals linked to asthma and birth defects that are banned in toys were found to be widespread in children’s vinyl back-to-school supplies.
Seventy-five percent of children’s school supplies tested in a laboratory had elevated levels of toxic phthalates, including popular Disney, Spider-Man and Dora branded school supplies such as vinyl lunchboxes, backpacks, 3-ring binders, raincoats and rainboots.
“Our investigation found elevated levels of toxic phthalates widespread in children’s school supplies, including Disney and Spider-Man lunchboxes and backpacks. These dangerous chemicals manufactured by Exxon Mobil have no place in our children’s school supplies, said Mike Schade from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), author of the report. "Unfortunately, while phthalates have been banned in children’s toys, similar safeguards don’t yet exist to keep them out of lunchboxes, backpacks and other children’s school supplies. It’s time for Congress to move forward and pass the Safe Chemicals Act to protect our children from toxic exposure.”
“School supplies are supposed to help our children with their education, they shouldn’t be harming their health. We don’t allow high levels of these toxic chemicals in children’s toys and we certainly shouldn’t allow them in back-to-school products. When kids take their lunch to school this fall, they shouldn’t be carrying it in a lunchbox laden with anything other than a nutritious meal, packed by mom.” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) who was at the press event and is co-sponsor of the Safe Chemicals Act—new legislation that would reform our nation’s broken chemical safety system.
Sen. Schumer also sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today urging the agency to complete their review of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to classify phthalates as “chemicals that present or may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.”
“As a mom, I am horrified to know that Spider-Man and Dora could be associated with highly toxic chemicals,” said Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, director of the film Toxic Baby. “As a filmmaker who has worked on this issue for years, I know what the effects of these toxic chemicals are on the bodies of children. As more and more American moms become aware of this issue, it’s clear that we are going to be using our considerable clout as consumers to buy products that are safe for kids. These products are not.”
Many other organizations collaborated on this report: WE Act for Environmental Justice, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Grassroots Environmental Education, A Clean & Healthy New York, New York Public Interest Research Group, NYC Sierra Club and Empire State Consumer Project.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY pages for more related news on this topic.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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