Brightly-Colored Second-Hand Toys Contain High Levels of Contaminants, Researchers Say

Brightly-Colored Second-Hand Toys Contain High Levels of Contaminants, Researchers Say

Toys made of plastic have been found to house toxins that kids absorb easily through their mouths.

Toys: with cheap plastic available and cheaper labor abroad seemingly easy to come by, they’re everywhere. But they aren’t always inexpensive to buy. And it can add up.

And so, inheriting some gently-used items from your neighbor’s, friends or relatives can be a welcome gift. This is especially true when kids are very young. But a recent study shows that some items might not be entirely safe for playing.

Related: Kids and Laser Toys: the FDA Has These 3 Warnings and Tips

Why? It’s all about the plastic. That found in many second hand toys doesn’t meet the most up-to-date international safety guidelines it’s been found. Consequently, they can hold high concentrations of hazardous elements.

Trains, Cars and Construction Toys

Researchers from the University of Plymouth, in England, analyzed 200 used plastic toys obtained from people’s homes, charity shops and nurseries in South West England.

They took their samples from trains, cars, construction toys, figures and puzzles, with all the toys being of a size that can be chewed.

Using x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry, it was found that the toys contained high levels of hazardous elements such as antimony, barium, bromine, cadmium, chromium, lead and selenium. All of these elements of are chronically toxic to children, when they’re exposed to the toxins at low levels over an extended period of time.

“…the plastics industry has had to take steps to eliminate hazardous elements from new toys,” said Dr Andrew Turner, Reader in Environmental Science and lead author in the study.

“However, consumers should be made more aware of the potential risks associated with small, mouthable and brightly coloured old plastic toys or components. Without that, the attractive cost, convenience and recyclability of previously used toys has the potential to create a legacy of chemical contamination for younger children.”

How can you play it safe? When kids are young enough to put everything in their mouth, avoid giving your children plastic toys if possible, and always wash their hands after play.

Photo credits: monticello/



Facebook Comments