At Chatham College, in Pittsburgh, Dr. Renee Falconer and lab technician Caitlin Corbitt, are finding dangerous levels of chemical pollutants in some of our children’s favorite toys.
“We decided to go ahead and look for pesticides, while we were looking for the flame retardants, and we found both,” said Dr. Renee Falconer.
The scientists take the teddy bears apart and pieces from the outer skin and the inner stuffing are placed in winding, bending tubes. Solvents, acids and heat extract concentrated levels of flame retardants and pesticides — up to 68,000 nanograms per gram, unsafe levels of chemicals capable of causing medical problems from learning disabilities to cancer.
The scientists expected to find flame retardants, but they were surprised to discover high levels of pesticides, like DDT and chlordane, toxic bug killers that have been banned in the U.S. for years. Most stuffed animals are manufactured in foreign countries, where the dangerous chemicals are still used. But exactly how the toxins get into the teddy bears is still a mystery, as is the level of danger posed to children.
“They could be still used in the factories, they could be used in the warehouses, or they could be coming out of people’s homes in our own country, we just don’t know yet,” says Dr. Falconer.
Tests performed thus far show that washing doesn’t appear to help the situation, either.
Therefore, concern is brewing as to the long term effects of the toxins in certain stuffed animals on children, as many children enjoy placing stuffed animals (possibly full of toxins) in their mouths. U.S. distributors of such stuffed animals need to be extremely careful prior to placing these toys into the stream of commerce in the United States.