Schumer warns of chemicals in back-to-school items

August 26, 2012 3:16:37 PM PDT
Some of the back-to-school products that you might be buying for your children, like some binders, contain chemical phthalates. They're used for making plastic softer. They're banned in children's toys because of adverse health effects.

So why are they not banned in school supplies?

"Parents may be getting more than what they bargain for when they buy products like these," said Senator Charles Schumer.

Standing next to a table of back-to-school products like backpacks and lunch boxes that tested positive for elevated levels of phthalates, Senator Schumer called on the Federal Government to take action because of the health effects these chemicals can cause.

Mike Schade with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice authored a new report that analyzes school supplies purchased in New York City. He says that the chemicals can cause birth defects in boys, and the list can go on and on.

Schade also says that 75 percent of the products eh tested contained phthalate levels well above the federal limits for toys.

"There's no reason why they shouldn't be getting into our children's bodies," he adds, "I think they should make people more aware of that."

Most parents Eyewitness News talked to, like Desiree Harmon, who is getting ready to send her 8 and 4-year-olds back to school, were un aware that the products they are buying contained toxic chemicals.

"Scary. In a backpack it's very scary, because it's on their clothes," said Harmon.

"It's scary to think that. We think it's safe, and it's not. Especially if food is going in there," said parent Stacy Hallums.

The Environmental Protection Agency agrees with Senator Schumer, but the Office of Management and Budget is the agency that Schumer says is dragging their feet. He is urging them to take action.

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