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Warning over hand-me-down plastic toys: 84% contain illegal levels of toxic 'forever chemicals'

Decrepit plastic toys like figurines, dolls and Lego pose health risk to children, experts warn (File)

Outdated plastic toys warning: 84% of vintage figurines and dolls contain illegal levels of toxic chemicals forever that can stunt their growth and cause cancer, a study warns

  • Researchers in Sweden examined the levels of several harmful toxins in 150 toys
  • Some old toys contained up to 400 times the legal limit of “forever chemicals”
  • Completed eco-friendly trend towards reusable “isn’t always a good thing”

Experts warn that used plastic toys such as figurines, dolls and Lego pose a health risk to children.

One study found the majority contained dangerous levels of toxic chemicals that can stunt growth in adolescents and have been linked to cancer and infertility.

Researchers in Sweden examined levels of two harmful toxins in more than 150 toys, both old and new.

While around three out of ten new toys exceeded legal limits in the EU and UK, more than 80 per cent of old toys exceeded the target.

Some old toys contained up to 400 times the legal concentrations of “forever chemicals”. Breakdown in the body can take years.

Researchers said the broader societal trend away from single-use items “isn’t always automatically a good thing.”

There is increasing pressure on businesses, from fast fashion stores to supermarkets, to focus on reusable products to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

Decrepit plastic toys like figurines, dolls and Lego pose health risk to children, experts warn (File)

Decrepit plastic toys like figurines, dolls and Lego pose health risk to children, experts warn (File)

What ARE “forever chemicals”?

“Forever Chemicals” are a class of common industrial compounds that do not degrade when released into the environment.

Humans are exposed to these chemicals after coming into contact with food, soil, or water reservoirs.

These chemicals — better known as per- and polyfluoroalkyls, or PFAS — are added to cookware, carpets, textiles and other items to make them more water and stain repellent.

PFAS contamination has been identified in water near manufacturing facilities and at military bases and firefighting training facilities where FR foam is used.

The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer and damage to the immune system, as well as birth defects, lower birth weight and reduced vaccine response in children.

Experts from the University of Gothenburg tested 157 different toys, including balls, dolls, figures and costumes, for phthalates or chlorinated paraffins.

The former are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable, often referred to as plasticizers. The latter are used to make toys non-flammable and are considered toxic to humans.

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Phthalates have been linked to an increased risk of asthma, breast cancer, obesity, diabetes, low IQ, and developmental and fertility problems.

It’s believed that once these persistent chemicals enter the body, they disrupt our internal systems and disrupt our DNA — which could lead to cancer.

Laws in the EU and UK state that manufacturers cannot use phthalates in concentrations greater than 0.1 per cent of the toy’s total weight.

The limit for short-chain chlorinated paraffins is 0.15 percent.

However, the study found that 30 percent of the new toys contained concentrations that exceeded these targets.

Older toys fared significantly worse, with 84 percent containing illegal amounts of the chemicals.

Lead researcher Professor Bethanie Carney Almroth said: “Many of the old balls were found to have phthalate levels in excess of 40 per cent of the toy weight, which is 400 times the legal limit.

“The study shows that reuse and recycling are not always automatically a good thing.

“The transition to a more circular economy requires bans and other policies that remove hazardous chemicals from plastic and other materials.”

The legal limits for hidden chemicals in plastic toys were only recently introduced and therefore do not apply to older products.

According to a study, almost all pregnant women are exposed to chemicals linked to cancer

Almost all pregnant women are exposed to chemicals from plastics, cleaning supplies, clothing and other household items, which scientists say put you at a higher risk of cancer and can affect your baby’s development.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco tested urine samples from 171 women and found almost all of them contained melamine and its byproduct cyanuric acid — which can come from pots, plastic, kitchen countertops and pesticides.

The vast majority were also exposed to aromatic amines, which are commonly leached into the environment from clothing dyes and pigments.

dr Tracey Woodruff, a gynecologist who led the study, said the presence of chemicals was a “serious problem,” adding to that she was concerned they could have a worse effect if mixed together .

The chemicals are common, making them virtually impossible to avoid, but Woodruff said exposure could be reduced by buying fewer plastic-wrapped fruits and vegetables.

There is no regular monitoring of these chemicals, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it’s safe to be exposed to melamine below 0.06 mg per mg per two pounds of body weight. The World Health Organization says it’s safe up to 0.2 mg.

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