Simran Sethi's nephew, Bunny
Photo: Simran Sethi
What's the first thing a baby does with a new toy? She tastes it. That's why environmental journalist—and doting aunt—Simran Sethi wants to make sure the toxic material lead is taken nowhere near any children.
The whole world changes when you become a mother, or—in my case—an aunt. Almost one year ago to the day, my little nephew (affectionately known as Bunny) hopped out. Suddenly, all my cares about protecting the planet for future generations crystallized in a profoundly new way. My commitment to a clean and healthy environment expanded by 6 1/2 pounds and 19 inches to accommodate a little baby boy with whom I wished to spend the rest of my life.

Bunny is now at the stage every parent knows and dreads: crawling around, putting absolutely everything in his mouth. This kind of activity is a given. We know anything that goes into a baby's hands will end up in a baby's mouth. And we expect that products engineered to go into a child's hands—toys—are safe. This, unfortunately, is not the case. Children's products became subject to stringent regulation only with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, a law that adopted new thresholds for chemicals in toys and banned the use of lead and most phthalates—chemicals used to soften plastic—in products intended for children under 12 years of age.

Despite this legislation, a significant number of toys are still problematic. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is one of many incredible organizations dedicated to protecting us. Its research has uncovered lead in everything from poker chips and dog whistles to kids' backpacks and women's purses. In honor of mothers (and aunties) everywhere, I spoke with CEH's community health program coordinator, Christine Cordero, to learn more about the group's report on toxic toys.

Listen to Simran's conversation with CEH's Cordero now.

Though the burden of proof really shouldn't be on consumers, in most instances we buyers have to beware. HealthyStuff.org is a great tool for navigating the terrain. That resource, coupled with a letter to your elected officials supporting the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010, is a great way to show all mothers (including Mother Earth!) you care.

For suggestions on great green toys, check out my tweets @simransethi.

Simran

Simran Sethi is an award-winning journalist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications. For more information on Sethi, visit SimranSethi.com and follow her on Twitter @simransethi.

Keep Reading:
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