Toys are safe products
Time and again we hear of troubled notions of toxins in toys. Preschools throughout Sweden are being "poison-sanitized" and this is of course good; who can argue with the belief that kids should have a non-toxic environment? And surely much can be done to minimize our children's exposure to toxic chemicals, but to focus on toys as the big culprit is taking the discussion somewhat off-course.
Toys have a new and very strict legislation banning toxic substances and minimizing the risks of children being affected by the products. New, legal toys are simply chemically safe products and the risks of playing with these are minimized as far as it is reasonably possible.
Plastic is often cited as a problematic material in these contexts. And often is it plasticizers (phthalates) to which people refer. The truth, however, is that the dangerous phthalates have been banned in toys since 1999 and if/when new research finds other chemical substances that prove problematic, they are added to the list of restrictions. Few consumers and journalists realize how strict the rules and regulations for toys are: for example, a plastic spoon that a child uses to pretend-feed a doll is more strictly regulated than a real utensil a child uses when they eat.
It can certainly be a good idea to look over the environment in schools and in other public places, as well as our homes, but calls to dispose of all toys and children's products purchased before 2007 seems to be a bit irrational. To get rid of things that are not toys may be a good idea; old mobile phones, and other products not intended for play, should of course not be in their everyday environment. Also, floors, walls, paint, objects that come into contact with food and beverages, as well as other interior objects may need to be reviewed. An important factor is also proper cleaning since dust isnot good for health.
Of course the reality is that there are toys and children's products that don't reach the above discussed standards. This is due to the fact that some less reputable businesses choose to import cheap, illegal products without proper safety checks, but these businesses cannot be stopped through tougher legislation, but through improved market surveillance by the authorities - something the toy industry supports wholeheartedly. We also want to clean up the market from deceptive companies and illegal products, however we are doubtful that it can be environmentally sound to discard all plastic toys in a kindergarten based on the fact that the market controls of new toys found isolated cases where a toy does not meet legal requirements.
This text is from the Lek- och Babybranschen in 2015. They work for the healthy development of the industry, from both a financial and ethical perspective.