Illinois PIRG (a public advocacy group) recently released a report on toy toxicity.

The research team selected 87 toys different toys for testing, all purchased at either Target, Toys’ R Us, Claire’s Boutique or Dollar Tree. They focused on four types of chemicals: lead, phthalates, bromine and cadmium.

The results were eye-opening. They found 18 toys with lead, 6 of which exceeded the 300 ppm federal limit. A cell phone charm from Claire’s even had as much as 710,000 ppm, and a toy duck from Dollar Tree contained 34,000 parts per million. Two other toys (also from Claire’s) violated federal levels for phthalates, a Little Princess handbag and an Elmo’s lunchbox. And they also found 32 products with bromine, and 2 with cadmium.

Lead and phthalates can severely affect children’s cognitive and physical development, and are banned under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. Bromine and cadmium, on the other hand, are thought to be potentially dangerous, but are not yet regulated by the government. Some research has connected bromine (used in flame retardants) with thyroid complications, most threatening to pregnant women and children. Cadmium is a known carcinogen that is linked to various illnesses from nausea, to kidney damage to lung cancer.

To keep your children safe, make sure to stay in tune with recalls and product safety tests. For recall information you may visit the CPSC website. And for more information on toxic chemicals in products, you should visit