February 5th, 2015

Time for Dollar Stores to Stop Selling Toxic Products

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 Dollar Store Products Tested Contain Hazardous Chemicals Groovy Green Livin

During one of our vacations last summer I remember making a pit stop at a local “dollar store”. The choices for shopping were few in the remote area of Maine we were travelling through. We were searching for beach toys, kick boards and other items that would help entertain our kids during our much anticipated days at the beach. We left the store with a pile of inexpensive purchases.

Now I’m cringing and kicking myself for making those purchases.

A new report released by The Campaign for Healthier Solutions found 81% of dollar store (referring to a group of discount retailers commonly called “dollar stores”) products contain hazardous chemicals.

The report,  A Day Late and a Dollar Short: Discount Retailers are Falling Behind on Safer Chemicals — includes testing results for 164 dollar store products purchased from the four largest dollar store chains in six states such as toys, jewelry, school supplies and other household items, and found over 81% (133 of 164) contained at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern.

The chemicals of concern found in dollar store products tested for this report include: phthalates, linked to birth defects, reduced fertility, cancer, learning disabilities, diabetes, and other health issues; polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC or vinyl), which creates hazards throughout its life cycle and has been linked to asthma and lung effects; and toxic metals such as lead, which harms brain development, leading to learning disabilities, lower IQ, and cause other serious health impacts, especially in children.

In addition, 40% of sales at Dollar stores go toward food products (not tested for this report) – much of which is highly processed with low nutritional quality, and whose packaging is another potential source of toxic chemicals including bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic hormone linked to breast and others cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease.

Many communities served by dollar stores are predominantly communities of color or low-income communities
that are already disproportionately exposed to chemical hazards and health effects linked to chemical exposures.

Other Big Retailers are Listening to Consumers

Fortunately, there is a growing movement by mainstream retail and manufacturing brands – including Target and Walmart – to respond to consumer demand for safer products with publicly-available corporate policies that identify, disclose, and replace priority toxic chemicals with safer alternatives.  By failing to address toxic chemicals through comprehensive policies, Dollar chains are not only putting their customers at risk, they are exposing their businesses to the fate of companies like Mattel, which lost 18% of its value after recalling toys with lead paint, and Sigg USA, which went bankrupt after failing to disclose toxic BPA in its water bottles.

It’s Time for the Sale of Toxic Products at Dollar Stores to End

Toxic chemicals in products on the shelves of our stores is unacceptable. The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is asking for change, including:

  • Discount Retailers immediately remove children’s products found to contain regulated phthalates and lead from store shelves; and adopt comprehensive corporate chemical management policies to identify, disclose, and remove hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and from all products in their stores, beginning with their house brands.
  •  Local, State, and Federal Governments ensure that discount retailers comply with all relevant laws and regulations; and adopt public policies (such as Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law and Washington’s Children’s Safe Products Act) that require manufacturers and retailers to disclose hazardous chemicals in products, research alternatives, and remove hazardous chemicals when alternatives are available, effective, and safer.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  •  Families and Communities let Dollar store chains know that we want safer products, and join local and national efforts advocating for nontoxic products.

I’m hoping that one of the many dollar store chains will will seize the opportunity to become a leader in providing safer products in the competitive discount retail sector. Which one do you think it will be? 

Thank you to The Campaign for Healthier Solutions for providing the information for this post. To read the full report click HERE.

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


photo credit: baby girl shoppin’ via photopin (license)

6 Responses to “Time for Dollar Stores to Stop Selling Toxic Products”

  1. I shop at the Dollar Store once a year – to get plastic eggs for an Easter egg hunt – and I am always concerned about the low quality of the products there, especially the food products. It’s so sad that bad, processed foods and other products are so cheap and the good stuff is expensive. Thanks for this post, Lori… I am now to research eco-friendly Easter eggs…..

  2. What’s that saying? You get what you pay for. It’s sad the dollar stores (and others) are even allowed to sell the toxic items in the first place.
    Emily recently posted..Meal Planning on the Go {Thrive Market giveaway}My Profile

  3. I wish that nobody was allowed to sell these toxic items…or at the very least that they were labeled so we could decide on our own.
    Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? recently posted..5 Ways to Keep Your Kids Active and Moving in the Winter [VIDEO]My Profile

  4. Unfortunately, toxic chemicals are just so prevalent in products you buy from the store. I wish it weren’t so, but as you say the way to make this change is to get involved and make it clear that we want safer, non-toxic products in our stores. No household items should contain substances that can harm the people/animals living in that house. That just doesn’t make sense.

  5. You ask which dollar store chain will take leadership in providing safer products. I hope someone does, but I’m not holding my breath. I’ll date myself, but I remember when tiny American Motors Corporation joined the Big Three in fighting proposed federal auto safety standards. AMC was the smallest surviving American auto maker, and I remember thinking that they were missing a great opportunity. They could add safety features to their lineup and advertise as the safe car. They didn’t. They’re gone. Maybe now that consumers are beginning to demand safety and that safer alternatives exist it will work out differently with dollar stores.

  6. Thanks for your comment David. Good example-if only these stores could see the big picture.

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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