The Toxic Side of the Holiday Season

Published Date : Dec 24, 2014

Michigan-based nonprofit environmental organization The Ecology Center recently revealed the data of their study of 69 holiday products. The study shows that more than 60% of the 69 products contained at least one hazardous chemical linked with serious health problems. The study included products from popular retail stores such as Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Kroger, Dollar Tree, etc.

Garlands, wreaths, figurines, and artificial greenery were among the products tested by The Ecology Center. They found that lead and bromine-based flame retardants were surprisingly common in these products. These two substances are linked with respiratory, developmental, and neurological conditions.

Lead, in particular, is notoriously toxic even in small amounts and is a strong causative agent of neural diseases. 13% of the products tested in the study contained more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of lead. The bromine levels were hardly better, as 12% products contained more than 800 ppm of bromine.

One of the main causes of this endemic is the loose wording of the legislation restricting lead content in commercial products. While products intended for children are strictly censured, since young brains are more sensitive to smaller levels of lead exposure, simply removing that label from a product makes it free from lead usage laws. The product can then be sold without any modifications after just removing the label of being intended for children.

This is a particular concern in matters of Christmas decorations, as the whole family - including toddlers -invariably comes in contact with such holiday-themed products. These products, not being legally ‘intended for children’, are virtually free from the hazardous chemical regulations.