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Some Back-to-School Products & "Bounce Houses" Spell Danger for CA Kids

August 23, 2010

LOS ANGELES - Backpacks, lunchboxes and binders; what seem like helpful back-to-school supplies for California kids could actually do more harm than good. That's according to Michael Schade, the PVC campaign coordinator with the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. He says that's because many of these plastic products are made with PVC or vinyl, which contain harmful additives such as lead.

"This is the most toxic plastic for our health and environment, and chemicals released by the vinyl life cycle have been linked to chronic diseases on the rise in children: diseases like learning disabilities, obesity, asthma and diabetes."

Schade says children are at risk from even small exposure to these chemicals but, he says, the good news is that there are options available. To identify PVC packaging, look at the universal recycling symbol and if it has the number "3" or the letters "V" or "PVC" - he says: Move on. If you are unsure, or it is not labeled, call or e-mail the manufacturer. His organization also provides a free list of safe alternatives on their website (see below).

Schade says another danger can be found lurking in "bounce houses" - those vinyl toy houses kids play in at birthday parties and other places.

"A new investigation by the Center for Environmental Health and the California Attorney General has found that many children's vinyl 'bounce houses' are made out of this poison plastic and are actually contaminated with potentially harmful levels of lead."

He advises parents to ask if a "bounce house" contains lead before allowing them to play in it, and if there's any doubt, make sure children wash their hands and faces immediately after playing.

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice website is at www.chej.org

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA