Toxic Toys vs. Healthy Toys: 5 to Chuck, 5 to Prize

As the economy crumbles around us and we futilely put on happy faces and spread some holiday cheer for our blissfully ignorant children, we're now being socked with a frightening report that toys in our homes—and others we were hoping to check off our kids' holiday wish-lists—are loaded with harmful chemicals and toxins.

One-third of 1,500 popular children's toys tested for dangerous chemicals contained "high" or "medium" levels of toxins like lead, chlorine and arsenic, according to the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based environmental organization that releases an annual guide to toxic chemicals in toys at

Other kinds of chemicals uncovered include cadmium, bromine and mercury—all of which have been linked to such health issues as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer in animal and sometimes human studies. The bottom line: When children put these toys into their mouths, these chemicals may enter their bodies. Other chemicals can be released directly onto their skin, into the air they breathe and even infiltrate house dust.

Parents were outraged in 2007 after the date-rape drug GHB was found in the uber-toy, Aqua Dots, and when they were forced to throw out a slew of Thomas the Tank Engine toys because of high lead levels. These incidents led to sweeping statements from the major toy manufacturers vowing to be more vigilant about the use of chemicals in their toys. But according to the Ecology Center's report, they're still not doing enough.

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