Plastic toys are extremely common nowadays, partly because of their demand due to low average prices, but are you aware of the health risks that may come with them? Many toxins are absorbed into our bodies through the mouth and, since babies do a lot of exploring with their mouths, this means that our children are particularly at health risk.
Why Are Some Plastics Unhealthy?
BPA and phthalates are examples of toxic compounds commonly found in a range of different plastics. Many of these plastics are made to make the toys that our children play with every day, many of which end up in their mouths. Although studies are inconclusive, some suggest that these toxins may interfere with hormones in humans.
Although government guidelines are getting stricter with regards to what materials toys can be made out of, there are still many toys on our shelves containing more than the recommended maximum amount of these ingredients.
Phthalates are now banned from plastic toys in the US, and you can find BPA-free plastics by looking at the recycling numbers: 3, 6 and 7 should be avoided. Remember, hand-me-down toys may not have been subjected to the recent laws that have been passed, so be particularly careful for the existence of toxic plastic and lead paint.
Choosing Safe Toys
Even when you choose the safer plastics 1, 2 and 5, you still need to know how to use them correctly. Chemicals will often leech out at higher temperatures, so try to avoid using plastic containers in the microwave, or using plastic bottles to store hot liquids, e.g. feeding your kids hot beverages through a plastic cup. When cleaning plastic toys or other items, avoid the use of harsh chemicals that can potentially break down the plastic. Mild soapy water is usually best. If you are unsure, you can always check out those departments that sell kids items and you can ask them on how to get to the children-safe detergents and such.
It can often be confusing and difficult to know whether a certain toy is safe. If in doubt, do a little research on the manufacturer. Do they mention anything on their website about toxic ingredients? Are they committed to using more natural materials? Are they listed on any healthy toy databases? Although the information may be limited, toy manufacturers are becoming more and more wary of what goes into their products all the time.
Avoiding plastic toys is another way to avoid many of the chemicals that come with them. Alternatives include wood and cloth toys. You may not be able to avoid plastic altogether, but you can drastically reduce the amount you let into your home.