U.S. Senator calls for action against chemicals in school supplies

Posted at 6:44 AM, Aug 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-27 17:00:59-04

A member of the U.S. Senate is calling for immediate action to deal with school supplies that may contain toxic chemicals.

Many kids around Utah are heading back to school Monday morning. The warning comes from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice's Green School Campaign and the Empire State Consumer Project.

According to the report, 75 percent of the back to school supplies tested contained an elevated amount of a toxic chemical known as phthalates.

Phthalates are linked to asthma and birth defects and are already banned in children's toys.

Since back to school items like backpacks, binders and lunch boxes are not toys, these chemicals are allowed at levels far beyond what would be legal in a toy.

The report features some alarming statistics including a Dora the Explorer backpack that contained levels over 69 times the federal limit for toys. An Amazing Spiderman backpack had levels over 52 times the allowable federal limit and a Disney Princess lunchbox had levels over 29 times the limit.

These numbers have New York Senator Charles Schumer calling for immediate action.

"They're already banned in children's toys in the U.S. They've been shown to be harmful," said Sen. Schumer. "The fact that a product, a chemical, a phthalate, could be banned in children's toys but is allowed in children's school supplies makes no sense."

Sen. Schumer has urged the U.S. Senate to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, which would require all chemicals be evaluated for safety.

To find out if your child's back-to-school items contain phthalates, visit