Just in time (ish) for Christmas, we want to highlight a post from Peter Rothberg’s blog on The Nation’s web site. Peter brings to our attention the good work the folks at HealthyToys.org  are doing.
They’ve tested more than 1,500 toys and children’s products for the presence of potentially hazardous chemicals and posted the results on their site. Their database is searchable by brand and type of toy, and they provide rankings from safest products to products of most serious concern. You can even send them a text message right from the toy store to get instant toy safety ratings.
For the second straight year, HealthyToys.org is highlighting test results for more than 1,500 toys and children’s products. Researchers at the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based nonprofit, tested more than 1,500 popular children’s toys for lead, cadmium, arsenic, PVC and other harmful chemicals in time for this year’s holiday shopping season. The results are sobering: One in three toys tested were found to contain “medium” or “high” levels of chemicals of concern.
Lead was detected in 20 percent of the toys tested this year. In fact, lead levels in some of the products were well above the 600 parts-per-million (ppm) federal recall standard used for lead paint, and will exceed the US legal limit in February, according to the new Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations. Levels of lead in many toys were significantly above the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended ceiling of 40 ppm of lead in children’s products. (Children’s jewelry remains the most contaminated product category, maintaining its spot at the top of HealthyToys.org’s “worst” list.)
The site’s utility allows ease of use for busy parents and children’s advocates. Type in “Dora,” and several varieties of toys appear. Click on a specific toy, and up pop product ratings based on test results for lead, cadmium, chlorine, arsenic and mercury. The ratings range from low- to high-risk. A primer on the hazards of each substance and a breakdown of which components were tested lets consumers evaluate the risk.