Plastic Toy Vapor

I have concerns with the vapor emitted from plastic toys. When I removed a new toy from the trunk of the car on a warm day the smell was very intense. Should I be concerned about toxification from plastic toys?

You are right to be concerned, as chemicals more readily escape from plastics when heated. A very common plastic used in toys, including teethers and other “mouth toys,” is PVC (#3). Bad stuff, its production is a source of carcinogenic dioxin in the environment. Soft PVC toys are made flexible with phthalates, chemicals that have caused reproductive system harm and liver cancer in animal tests. Tests in the European Community have shown that phthalates can leach from soft PVC, posing a threat particularly to small children prone to sucking or chewing on toys.

In 1997, Greenpeace found hazardous levels of lead and cadmium in some PVC toys and children’s vinyl raincoats.

Responding to these problems, some conscientious manufacturers, such as Lego, Gerber, Playskool and Brio, are no longer making toys from PVC. So next time you’re shopping, avoid vinyl or PVC toys, as well as clothing, backpacks, bags, lunch pails and school items made of this plastic, and instead seek out toys made from solid (preferably sustainably sourced) wood, organic cotton, or safe plastics.

Holgate Toys and Tumbleweed Woodworks both provide sustainably sourced wooden toys (, 800-499-1929;, 800-497-3116). For organic cotton stuffed toys, see Mama’s Earth (, 800-620-7399).

Since Lego promotes their kits these days, to get buckets of Lego bricks it’s best to contact the company and ask for Item 4105 (miscellaneous bucket) or Item 4028 (world of bricks) (, 800-835-4386).

And please note: Health concerns about toys are not limited to plastic. Cereals containing Spider-Man toys were pulled from shelves in many states because they included a battery containing the brain-damaging heavy metal mercury.

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