A Danish University has released findings, in February this year, that plastic toys remain a threat to children’s health.
It has been a number of years since the most notable harmful chemicals in plastics, the phthalates that mimic and disrupt hormones, were regulated and largely removed from items that humans may put in their mouths.
Such chemicals affect the development of unborn children causing reproductive organs to be damaged, as well as increasing female effects on males including breast development and lack of testosterone for example. These chemicals additionally cause cancer.
126 substances were identified in the study as still being a problem. There is also the fact that there is no international agreement on banning the toxins. Rules differ from one country to another.
Toy manufacturers have not been providing information on the chemical content of toys. They are dangerous both from the act of a child putting it in their mouth, drinking or eating from the surface, or from gases released. Poor quality plastic goods such as those commonly bought from China that have a smell of plastic are releasing toxins into the air. Flame retardants that are also in furnishings are very unhealthy.
Children in “Western” countries have on average 18kg of plastic toys. These should be minimised. A child could instead creatively play by painting and drawing or with toys made of wood or metal in the old-fashioned way (but without the lead paint).
We should also avoid the child becoming too integrated into electronic media – which is there to pollute brains. A young child stuck on a tablet computer or equivalent is simply tragic. Parental interaction is essential to get the most out of educational materials.
The Danish university identified three solutions to the plastic problem: minimising the amount of plastic the children handle; ventilation of the child’s room, and encouraging more legislation around curbing the harmful chemicals.