Which child doesn’t like toys? Aside from being loads of fun to play with, they also allow the adults to have some time for themselves, which may also act as an incentive for buying them in the first place. But toys are not without their flaws, especially when they have the potential to cause harm. Unregulated, toys can contain materials and poisonous compounds that can harm the well-being of children. Here are some of the common toxic chemicals found in children’s toys and their harmful effects:
1. Fire retardants
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a type of fire retardant that is especially harmful because they disrupt hormonal balance in the body which can lead to abnormal reproductive systems. Furthermore, PBDEs can also affect cognitive and physiological functions such as memory, learning and hearing.
In 2006, a 4-year-old in USA died after accidentally swallowing a toy locket. The cause of death wasn’t the toy jewellery itself, but the lead that came off the toy. Besides death, lead poisoning can damage the nervous system, delay growth and development, and also harm the kidney.
3. Bisphenol A (BPA) and Phthalates
BPA and phthalates are compounds that can cause cancer. Furthermore, these xenoestrogens mimic natural hormones, which can cause growth and developmental abnormalities. BPA stimulates early puberty in girls, while phthalates are related to low testosterone levels and various reproductive problems for boys.
These chemicals do not only affect the general well-being of those who are exposed, but they also cause growth and developmental problems. These are especially detrimental to the young ones because they are still growing up, and the toxicity of toys can have an adverse effect during such a crucial period of development.
Even with regulations on the chemicals used by toys, some toys continue to show high levels of toxicity due to negligence or policy loopholes. In order to ensure that your child remains safe during playtime, it’s important to examine the packaging of the toy before making your purchase. Toys which pass safety standards should display the corresponding agency’s logo; EU and Canada are said to have the strictest of standards. If you want to be absolutely sure however, consider going plastic-free when it comes to toys and opt for wood, cloth or metal-based ones instead. The less young children are exposed to these toxic chemicals, the better.