How safe are your child’s school supplies?
It’s nearly back-to-school season, and soon parents all over the United States will be rushing to retail stores to purchase the items their children need for the upcoming school year. Amid this hectic season, it is easy to forget that not all products are as safe or well-made as others. In fact, some school supplies can be quite dangerous. It is important to be aware of the harmful chemicals that can be contained in some school supplies. Various scientific tests were conducted on 27 different items classified as school supplies, with the intent of searching for the presence of toxic chemicals. The results were alarming, but below you will find a list of not only the school supplies that were found to be dangerous, but a few suggestions on how to identify the products that are safe for your child to use.
What are some of the products that were found to be dangerous?
Six types of crayons were tested for the presence of asbestos, and one of them tested positive. Playskool crayons (36 count) purchased at Dollar Tree were found to contain tremolite — a known carcinogen. This chemical can lead to very serious health problems, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Other products that were found to be of questionable safety include the Jot brand 3-ring binder (also from Dollar Tree), which was found to contain high levels of the phthalates DEHP and DINP. These substances are legal, but it is recommended by health professionals that children’s exposure to them be limited, as they have been linked to childhood obesity, lower IQ scores, and asthma in scientific studies. Some markers were found to contain the chemical benzene, which is a probable carcinogen and has been linked to reproductive problems. Benzene is also suspected to negatively impact the functions of the liver, kidneys, and immune system.
What can you do to protect your children?
The most important thing, as a parent, is constant vigilance. Although many dangerous products have already been recalled by the companies that manufactured them, some have not. This makes it a difficult but important task to stay aware of which products are unsafe and avoid them. Concerned parents and teachers should be sure to check the AP label. It is a mark of certification, given by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (“ACMI”). Any items that do not receive this certification should be checked particularly closely by parents. On a high quality product, you should be able to identify a manufacturer’s label that certifies the product to be within the guidelines for children set by the CPSC. Additionally, most products contain a “Questions or Comments?” number that can be reached by telephone. Parents and teachers can make use of this and demand that unlabelled manufacturers begin using a label — and that all of the relevant safety guidelines have been met.
In conclusion, how can parents protect their children from these chemicals?
There are many high-quality back-to-school products on the market that meet the industry’s rigorous safety standards. It is not necessary to panic, but it is necessary to be aware of the dangers and how to avoid them. Not all harmful chemicals are illegal. In the cases where such substances are contained in school supplies, it is the unfortunate responsibility of parents to remain vigilant and thoroughly check the products they are purchasing for their children. When in doubt, parents and teachers should contact the manufacturers of these products and ascertain that they are indeed safe.