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In the process of researching a few of the toys our twins received for Christmas I found a blog post that pointed out a few of them may contain PVC. I figured I should do due diligence to best understand what information is available about "toxic toys". Are there any well cited studies documenting the dangers (or lack thereof) of PVC to infants and children?

What do the studies indicate regarding risks of exposure, ways to mitigate risk, etc.?

The response below from one of the companies in question is a large reason I ask this question.

We’re so glad you contacted us! Safety is number one here at omitted. The well-being of the children who play with our toys is our top priority. We diligently monitor our products throughout every step of their existence, from the drawing board to production to store shelves. Our toys are manufactured to the strictest safety standards, both domestically and internationally. We’re proud to say that our toys are some of the most rigorously tested children's products in the world. In the end, all of our products are evaluated and approved as non-toxic.

Your concerns are valid and we want to assure you that we are dedicated to making the safest toys in the world.

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To add a little "meat" to this question. Admittedly this is probably best answered as a "discussion" and it is one that I imagine will change over time (with additional studies). One of the reasons I have asked is that I do not have "the study" that points out the toxicity and the questioning of how safe it is had to come from somewhere. I wanted a more trustworthy answer than a possibly scrubbed Google result. And I definitely cannot fully trust the "company line". –  Randolph Jan 3 '13 at 18:14
    
Thanks for the clarification! However, if you feel the question is best answered as a "discussion", I would suggest trying to rephrase it, as our platform isn't really suited for discussion (although we do offer our Parenting Chat rooms as an alternative place where discussion is welcome). Questions that fare best here (i.e. get the highest quality answers) are ones that are fairly concrete and reasonably scoped. Please feel free to refine your question further, as the more specific you can make it, the better the answers you are likely to receive. Thanks! –  Beofett Jan 3 '13 at 18:57
    
I think Google Scholar results are trustworthy, since you can check the citations and for commentary on any studies you view. Google Scholar results aren't scrubbed the way you're thinking, and in reading a study on point you may find citations to others that are helpful, even if they didn't come up in the first batch or two of results. –  Iucounu Jan 3 '13 at 19:09
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2 Answers 2

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Yes, there are many such studies. It would be hard for a layperson to synthesize the large amounts of research that have been done in this area, and I won't attempt to do so, since I wouldn't be able to quickly figure out just which studies are the most well-regarded ones, nor pick a representative enough sample to show the full range of effects, let alone properly construe all the results in light of each other.

Websites seem to advocate just staying away from PVC, including by looking for "PVC" or "#3" on the packaging, especially near the recyclability icon for U.S. products. Here's a sample. Of course, these types of consumer-oriented sites may not be what you're looking for, as they are heavy on generalizations and often light on citations to research.

If you're concerned about the toys from a particular manufacturer, I'd run a web search (not one for research studies) to see if you can find credible info on their PVC content, and check the packaging before buying in person, or just after receipt if buying by mail. If the toys at issue seem to contain PVC, just avoid them. You might want to check for lead content as well, while you're at it.

If you want to find out PVC consumer protection rules, those will likely be available on government websites. Once you find out acceptable types and levels of PVC in consumer products, if you wanted to determine your or your family's residual exposure to harmful effects, I'm afraid you'll be stuck reviewing the scientific and medical research again, where laypeople aren't the best resource. Good luck.

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The many comments about content quality have been removed because that discussion was moved to chat and is no longer relevant here. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 3 '13 at 19:26
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+1: I think your revised answer is a great improvement! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 3 '13 at 19:27
    
So much better!! Thanks. –  balanced mama Jan 3 '13 at 22:13
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PVC is pretty much everywhere, so hard to avoid simply by removing toys. Generally speaking, PVC in its hardened state is fairly benign (compared to most any other plastic). It is extremely toxic if it burns, and it's also pretty nasty in the manufacturing process.

All that said, Wikipedia actually has a fairly detailed list of the safety concerns about PVC:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_chloride#Health_and_safety

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