Popular School Supplies Test High for Cancer-Causing Chemical

Say What!? 18

lunchbagI used to make fun of parents who put their kids in bubbles. But the new report on toxins in children's back-to-school supplies is almost making me wish I was one of them. Now we have to worry about backpacks? Backpacks!?

The study which I read the day AFTER I took my kid school supply shopping (because, of course) comes from the non-profit Center for Environment, Health & Justice, and it will pretty much scare the pants off of you. You know all those toxins they've finally banned from our kids' toys because they can cause cancer (among other things?)? Well, they're hiding out in our school supplies now.

Tests by an independent lab found toxic levels of phthalates in backpacks, lunchbags, three-ring binders, and more. Let's just say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates phthalates as water and air pollutants.

And just think! That's nestled right up against your kid's PB&J! Mmm.

Of course, they tell us all of this, and we all freak out. I don't want my kid toting her lunch around in something that's made of a product known to cause liver cancer and hormone disruption issues.

And yet, there is only so much we parents can do until the legislators make these companies shape up and keep the chemicals away from our kids.

The CHEJ has a whole list of tips for parents that can basically be distilled down to "don't buy anything made from plastic." Which would be easier if teachers were on board. My daughter's school supply list called for not one, not two, but five folders made from ... you guessed ... it plastic. I understand that they stand up to the wear and tear of second grade, but the CHEJ says they're a no no. What's a mom to do? You don't exactly want to start the year off on the bad foot with the teacher, do you?

I try to keep my daughter safe. I buy phthalate-free (when it's listed), BPA-free, PVC-free. And yet this morning I was left with those plastic folders in my hands, debating whether I should risk a fight with a teacher or just let it ride. We shouldn't be in this position!

Does this news affect your school shopping plans? Are you already done?


Image via aMichiganMom/Flickr

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Lovin... LovinJerseyMama

I'm to the point where I'm about to start cutting down my own damn trees to make paper products, harvesting my own fruits & veggies, slaughtering my own hand raised meats... If only it could be done from a two bedroom apartment!


Thanks for this.  I'm going to search right now for phlate-free lunch bags.  Or maybe I'll just use brown paper bags, the good old-fashioned kind.

Tanya Frey

I have been buying from a company called Melaleuca since 2000 after learning about all the carcinogens in our cleaners and toxins in products we use everyday.

They were taken out a while back because of the harms but the companies raised so much hell because of the cost of safer options they let them have them again.

We need to start being more conscious of what's going on around us so we can keep our kids safer. Dirt and germs I don't worry about so much, it's the dangerous chemicals. More and more kids are getting cancer, I think all this stuff is why.

nonmember avatar Heather meeks

This is crazy im very picky what my kids do and dont get i buy there lunch boxs and stuff to put there food in

Thomas Robicheaux

You really have to watch everything now. Quite a few things that are sold in dollar stores or at Target in the bargain section have labels that state they contain lead and to wash hands after use.

Stephanie Davis-Marcusky

I ignored my teacher's request for vinyl duotang folders (he's only in Kindergarten) and will just replace the folder as it wears out when he brings it home. But maybe you can include a note with the "offending" thing you bought in lieu of the plastic to let them know WHY.

Angie Hayes

Ugh, I feel like no matter how hard I try, it is impossible to get around. I am always a vigilent label reader, organic/vegetarian food eater, and BPA - PVC Free buyer... but it just should be ILLEGAL to put these things in the stuff we use everyday. Someone needs to do something about it, it is such a chemicle filled world we live in..

txngrrl txngrrl

Oh man, people have been using this stuff for HOW long? I imagine the greatest risk, if there truly IS any, would be if the folder were you know, set on fire, eaten or heated up in some way to change the chemical composition to release whatever "toxins" might be in them.  As long as your second grader does set his folder on fire or try to eat it, i'm sure he'll be fine.  I also imagine these are trace amounts of things that are negligible if it were to be tested for levels.  I would be much more concerned about the amount of pollutions that your companies/farmers contribute to your air, water sources, etc.  Something so minute does not deserve this sort of response.  Return your scuhool supplies if you're so worried, but otherwise, I'm sure they're fine.

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