Recycled plastics warning: Toxic chemicals found in toys sold in Canada
A toy car is shown in an image from Shutterstock.com
A recent analysis of products made from recycled plastics uncovered toxic chemicals in items including children's toys sold in Canada.
The analysis found flame retardant contamination in some plastic cars, pocket calculators, hair accessories and other plastic products.
"Those products are not a fire hazard and are not expected to contain the some of the most toxic substances targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention," the Canadian Environmental Law Association said in a statement Tuesday.
Consumers should be able to purchase recycled products and not be worried that they contain substances that are globally banned, the statement said.
Researchers said they hope the findings will motivate policymakers to close what they refer to as a "recycling loophole."
Canada is one of the few countries that has a recycling exemption for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
The exemption allows for the recycling of plastics from items like computers, but environmental health organizations warn it allows banned chemicals in products, and poses a threat to public health.
"We are facing a troubling situation where the global elimination goal for toxic chemicals set in the Convention are being undermined by exemptions allowing for recycling of plastics containing toxic PBDEs," Fe de Leon, researcher and paralegal CELA, said in the statement.
"There are a number of relatively low-tech ways, such as floating plastic in a salt water solution, for identifying plastics containing brominated flame retardants and keeping these plastics out of recycling."
Health Canada reviewed new information about PBDEs in 2012, and published a report on potential harms of different types of PBDEs.
The report suggested the predominant sources of exposure for children were breastmilk and mouthing of hard plastic toys.
Children's toys manufactured in China specifically were identified in its report.
There are regulations outlining the use of PBDEs based on environmental considerations.
The risk assessment recommended an expansion of prohibitions and use. It also recommended monitoring Canadians' exposure to PBDEs, and developing a strategy for PBDE-containing products. The federal government has environmental quality guidelines outlining the uses of PBDEs.