A Back-to-School Warning: Some Supplies Still Contain Toxic Risks

Pencil pouches and a backpack are the latest kids’ products found with lead by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), which today initiated legal action to eliminate these health threats. Our legal action coincides with the release of a PVC-Free Back-to-School Guide developed by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ). The Guide gives concrete advice on avoiding toxic threats in over 20 categories of school supplies, and outlines safer choices parents can count on.

In CEH’s recent findings, independent testing confirmed that an “Everest” brand backpack purchased at Walgreens, and pencil pouches purchased from Staples contain high levels of lead. The CHEJ report confirms that some school supplies may still contain PVC, a material known as a “poison plastic” for the often high levels of lead, phthalates and other toxic chemicals used in its production. Workers at PVC plants and surrounding communities may face life-long health risks from exposure to cancer-causing vinyl chloride and other hazardous chemicals used to make the poison plastic. The Back-to-School Guide offers tips for avoiding PVC when buying art supplies, electronics, clothing and accessories and more.

Previously, CEH has exposed high levels of lead in dozens of children’s products, including jewelry, imported candy, baby bibs, toys, and lunchboxes. CHEJ points out that many companies have committed to phasing-out PVC, so there is no excuse for any company to still be selling products that pose toxic threats to kids. We urge parents to get the Back-to-School Guide and look for PVC-Free products wherever you shop.