A new study published in late August by Environmental Defense found heavy metals, such as lead, and other toxic chemicals in children’s items sold at Dollarama and Dollar Tree.
The report revealed the presence of phthalates, bisphenols and the “eternal chemicals,” or PFAS, in a variety of foods, toys and baby supplies. These chemicals are particularly harmful to vulnerable populations such as children.
The activity tracker and headphones for kids contained more than 8000 times the external lead level specified for children’s products.
“There is a lack of regulations for lead in products, despite the tendency of these products to break down and expose their dangerous hidden ingredients,” said Cassie Parker, Toxics’ senior program manager in environmental defense. This regulatory loophole is one that dollar stores use to sell products that contain high levels of lead without violating the law.”
According to the expert, there should be no lead safety limit. Children’s products simply should not contain this dangerous substance.
According to the report, at least one in four products tested contained toxic chemicals, including lead in children’s products and electronics such as headphones.
All tested receipts contained BPS.
All tested cans contained toxic chemicals (60% with BPA, 40% with PVC and polyester resin).
All microwave popcorn packets tested contain PFAS.
Exposure to heavy metals and dangerous chemicals, even in small amounts, affects reproduction, behavior, metabolism and chronic diseases such as cancer, asthma and diabetes.
Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of these products due to their rapidly developing bodies.
Exposure to toxic substances is also associated with learning difficulties such as lower IQ, autism spectrum, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The report highlights the failure of the Canadian regulatory system to adequately protect public health, especially a population disproportionately affected by toxic substances.
Many low-income and racist societies already face systemic economic barriers and cannot avoid exposure to toxic substances by choosing expensive toxin-free alternatives.
“Ethnic and low-income communities are targeted by low-cost retailers who, despite their environmental and social responsibility, sell products to these communities laden with harmful substances,” Dr.s Ingrid Waldron, Executive Director of the Project on Environmental Harm, Racial Inequality and Community Health (ENRICH), a collaborative research and community engagement project on environmental racism in Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotia communities.
“For individuals and communities where the only accessible retail option is the discount store, we must ensure that they are afforded equal protection as those whose financial, geographic, social and economic privileges allow them to escape from these toxic risks,” she added.
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