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.