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Some School Supplies Made with Toxic Plastic

August 25, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas parents are being offered a lesson in back-to-school shopping as they head to stores to get their children ready for class.

The group Healthy Legacy is warning that some school supplies contain harmful chemicals which can affect a child's learning ability and health. Organizer Kim LaBo says backpacks, lunch boxes and binders often contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

"Also known as the poison plastic. And the good news is there are lots of alternatives to this harmful chemical that the parent can buy and they oftentimes cost the same or less as the PVC vinyl product."

Clues that a product contains PVC include a "3" or "V" under the universal recycling symbol. Put those items back on the shelf, LaBo says. Besides health risks related to PVC itself, Healthy Legacy cites additives commonly found in those products as additional health hazards, including lead and cadmium.

Phthalates also are commonly found in PVC products, LaBo says, and while phthalates have been banned from most children's items, they're allowed in school supplies.

"It was banned because of concerns about health effects. It'd been linked to asthma, and to disrupting key stages of development in children."

A guide to safe school-supply shopping is online at or

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX