And so it begins… a new year full of anticipation, nerves, friends and teachers. School has started!
Of course we joined thousands of other families in the annual tradition of back to school shopping. There is something so magical about opening a brand new notebook! It’s the anticipation of all the possibility that will fill those pages. A new folder is hope that maybe this year your child will stay organized. And then there is the quest for the perfect backpack. It has to have function and personality.
Unfortunately, there is more to consider than just color and style. Some back to school items actually contain toxic chemicals. Now I don’t want to freak you out or make you panic but I do want to make sure I am giving you all the information you need so you can weigh the risk yourself and make informed decisions for your own family.
I am always looking at ways to make better choices for my kids and the back to school process is no exception.
You may have seen the recent news headlines warning of a study that found some crayons imported from China are contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos, is known to cause cancer and can take 20 to 50 years to develop after exposure. The Environmental Working Group recently sited several brands containing tremolite or chrysotile asbestos fibers.
- Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit (Buy-Rite)
- EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit (Toys “R” Us)
- Saban Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons (Greenbrier International)
- Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons (Greenbrier International)
- Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Crayons (MII Inc.)
- Amscan Crayons (Amscan)
I was encouraged to learn that Toys “R” Us, Party City, Amazon.com and Dollar Tree just pulled those toxic asbestos crayons from their inventory. If you aren’t sure, you can go with soy based crayons or crayons made from beeswax.
One of the most dangerous groups of chemicals for our kids are Endocrine disruptors. Those are chemicals that, at certain doses, can interfere with the endocrine (or hormone) system. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders.
It just makes me wonder, if these toxins are banned from usage in children’s toys, why are they allowed in other kids’ products like lunch boxes?
Plastic backpacks and binders are often made from PVC and Phthalates. EWG recommends natural fabric backpacks and binders from recycled cardboard or other natural fibers are a safer option.
If there’s one change you make to your child’s backpack… take out the hand sanitzer!!! I know, it seems like the smart move to protect your kids from all those germs at school. But many brands contain an antimicrobial chemical called Triclosan.
Triclosan is one of those endocrine disruptors. It may damage thyroid function and actually encourage antibiotic resistance. Worse yet, some studies link it to cancer. Unlike the other school supplies this one can soak in through contact with the skin. Just remind your kids to wash their hands with soap and water. I have more information about where to find dangerous chemicals around your house and in beauty products in my Healthy Lifestyle Guide.
I hope everyone has a good, safe and happy school year. Now, it’s time to pack lunches and get back to ‘normal’ life.