5. Don't Play Around with Toys
As it turns out, I needn't have been worried about BPA in toys. It's rarely found in them, says the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services. The biggest issues in toys are contamination with lead, a metal that harms brain development, and phthalates, used in plastics to keep them flexible. Soft plastic toys are a double whammy: Historically, they've contained phthalates and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is frequently tainted with lead. The good news is that we don't need to worry quite so much about lead and phthalates in toys, thanks to a law that went into effect two years ago, says Liz Hitchcock, public health advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups,a watchdog organization that reviews toys annually. In February 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) set stricter limits for lead and three phthalatesmost strongly associated with health problems in all toys for children 12 and younger as well as teething toys, sippy cups and anything that could go in baby's mouth.
- Pass over any soft plastic toys in the hand-me-down pile or at a garage sale. Toys sold before the CPSIA (February 2009) didn't have to meet the stricter standards.
- Do not give metal costume jewelry to kids because much of that is made, or has been made, with lead, says Hitchcock.
- Buy from manufacturers that are clear about their commitment to providing safe toys, such as Plan Toys and Playmobil, suggests Taggart. Focus on simple cloth or wooden toys.