Keep your guard up
As parents, we assume the school supplies made for and handed to our children are safe for them to use, however, a recent study published by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) indicates otherwise. “Potentially harmful chemicals including phthalates, asbestos, benzene, and lead were all discovered to have been contained in many of the products that we hand to our children at school,” says Morgan Statt, health and safety investigator with consumersafety.org. For this reason, it’s important for parents to do their research before purchasing. “Long-term exposure to these hazards can lead to various illnesses including cancer, developmental problems, and neurotoxicity,” she says. “Short-term effects, particularly for the ingestion or inhalation of lead, include headaches, stomach cramps, and muscle pain.” Click through to find out which school supplies might be unknowingly making your child sick. Check out these adorable back-to-school products that you’ll want to snag for yourself.
With backpacks, Marilee Nelson, co-founder of Branch Basics and Dietary and Environmental Consultant and Materials Specialist, advises parents to avoid purchasing products that contain vinyl or Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) on the label or the recycle number “3.” “Shiny backpacks generally are made of vinyl and may contain PVC, lead, and high levels of phthalates,” she says. “Phthalates are linked to asthma, metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity, endocrine disruption, and more.” When picking a backpack for the new school year, she recommends opting for brands made of natural fibers like cotton, linen, hemp, or canvas or synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester. Brands she recommends include Beatrix and Bixbee.
Plastic lunch boxes
Many plastic lunch boxes, even the ones specially designed for children, are still made of vinyl plastic that contains phthalates. “This group of chemicals increases the flexibility of the plastic for ease of manufacturing, but it has also been linked to a number of health risks, including asthma, low IQ, altered reproductive development, and diabetes,” says Statt. “Phthalates can enter the body when children ingest food and drinks that have come into contact with phthalate-containing products.” Dabbawalla lunch bags contain no phthalates and are 100 percent toxic-free. Try these tips to beat back-to-school stress.