Toxic chemicals found in 75% of common household products

By: Matt Grocoff , Contributing Writer
In: In The News

What's for breakfast? How about a side order of birth defects with those eggs? Why not wash it down with some water from your lead lined garden hose? Like it or not, many of the products you bring home to your family have never been tested for hazardous chemicals.

The Ecology Center (HealthyStuff.org) based in Ann Arbor, Michigan has been independently testing products like children's toys, car safety seats, car interiors, and other common products for years. Industry has taken notice by removing some of the most hazardous chemicals, but there's still a long way to go toward true product transparency for consumers and parents.

143 products tested

For 2013, HealthyStuff.org tested 143 common household products from 11 national chains including Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., Dunham's Sports, Home Depot, K-Mart, Lowes, MC Sports, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Claire's Stores, Inc., and Icing. What they found should be cause for alarm.

According to HealthyStuff.org 2013 Fall Product Screening Report, "more than three quarters (115 of 143) of the products contained at least one or more chemicals of concern at detectable levels." About a third of the products tested had three or more chemicals of concern.

What they found

chemicals in spatula

Photo credit to HealthyStuff.org

Some of the chemicals they found included:


bromine (brominated flame retardants)

chlorine (PVC)



tin (organotins)


These chemicals have been linked in animal and some human studies to long-term health impacts such as asthma, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.

What's the concern?

healthy stuff ratings

Photo credit to HealthyStuff.org

The tests included products from virtually every area of the home: kitchen utensils, exercise equipment, jewelry, toys, storage containers, garden hoses, and many more. Despite recent attention to hazards in toys, dog food, cars, cosmetics, etc., the results of this sampling show that these chemicals are still showing up throughout our economy in many common products.

The study found cooking utensils with brominate flame retardants, lead in jewelry, and hazardous plasticizers in flooring and exercise equipment. The Ecology Center says this means "we have work to do."

There is some good news in the report. Apparently due to consumer pressure (sometimes from dads like me), stores like Walmart and Target are taking the lead with policies to address many of these chemical hazards.

We shouldn't have to be scientists every time we buy a simple product in a store. If you want to learn more about what you can do to ensure you bring only healthy and safe products home, check out www.HealthyStuff.org for ratings on all kinds of products for babies, kids, gardeners, and other consumer goods.