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Cars, Child Seats and Pet Products Put to the Test: Toxins Found

September 17, 2009

BOSTON - Bay Staters can now do a safety check on common items, such as children's toys, women's handbags, pet products and cars. About 5,000 products have been tested for lead, mercury, arsenic, other chemicals and metals. In some cases, hazardous levels were found, but a new database of the findings is now available to the public.

Elizabeth Saunders, health director for the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, which released the database, says the information is useful because, currently, consumers have only 'buyer-beware' to protect them.

"We're finding that these toxic hazards are turning up in more and more places that they just don't need to be. It's becoming increasingly clear that it's impossible for consumers to protect themselves with careful shopping alone."

Toxic chemicals and metals don't have to be used in most consumer products, adds Saunders, because there are other manufacturing options.

"We're not trying to take things things off the shelves that people want and need; we want to see safer alternatives. For many of the products, there are safer alternatives that are already on the market."

The safety check database is at www.HealthyStuff.org, and it makes its debut as Congress is gearing up to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act. That law, says Saunders, needs to be changed to require manufacturers to take responsibility for the safety of their products. Representatives of the chemical industry have suggested they could support stricter testing and information requirements, but caution lawmakers against dramatic changes to the law they say has worked well to protect consumers over the past three decades.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MA