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Plastics In Children's Toys

Learn About The Various Plastics In Toys

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Plastic Toy
riptheskull via Flickr (Creative Commons)

It is important to note that there are some plastics that are better than others, especially when it comes to plastic in toys for children; this is according to the Environmental Working Group. The primary reason as to why you should pick your plastic used in your children toys carefully, is that the toxicity of plastics has not been fully tested to this day.

However, something that we do know about certain plastics that are used to make children's toys is that they contain chemical additives which change the quality of the plastics. These chemical additives can sometimes be harmful to the human body. There are some specific plastics that we know are particularly harmful such as bisphenol-A (Also known as: Bis-A, or BPA). Other plastic softeners such as phthalates are also known to be harmful.

It is important to select plastics carefully to minimize exposure for your child. If possible, attempt to stay away from plastics that are marked with a 3 or PVC. This is because PVC plastics often contain additives that can make plastics more harmful than they need to be for children, according to the Environmental Working Group. It is important to note that phthalates were recently banned in children's toys, but toys made before February of 2012 can still contain these harmful plastics.

One may be interested to know more about the history of plastic toys. First, it is important to understand what exactly a plastic is and where the first plastic materials came from. Plastics technically include a wide range of semi-synthetic organic solids that are moldable. They are usually made with organic polymers that have a high molecular mass. They are most commonly synthetic and are often derived from petrochemicals.

There is a particular type of plastic that is used in children toys which goes by the name of polystyrene and is a rigid, brittle, inexpensive plastic. It was also commonly used to make plastic model kits and other toys. It is also expanded to EPS foam. In the late 1950s, high impact polystyrene was introduced which was not brittle and it is commonly used in the modern day to make toy figurines and novelties of similar nature.

It is important to note that plastics in their pure form typically have low solubility in water and have a low level of toxicity. However, some plastics found in toys contain a variety of additives which have been found to be toxic. For example, plasticizers such as adipates and phthalates have been added to brittle plastics such as polyvinyl chloride to make them pliable enough for toys. Traces of these compounds can possibly leak out of the product.

You may be interested to know that the European Union has decided to place a permanent ban on the use of phthalates in toys. Furthermore, in the year of 2009 the United States decided to ban certain types of phthalates that are commonly used in plastics.

For the most part, plastic children toys are made with safe plastics. A vast majority of toys are now made with PBT plastic. You can tell these toys apart by sight, as they are the brightly colored, shiny, very impact resistant toys.

The future of plastics is certainly interesting to think about especially for use in toys. One thing that w will likely be seen in the future  is corn-based plastics. The specific name of one popular corn-based plastic goes by the name of polylactic acid. It is becoming an extremely popular alternative to petroleum based products. This is also a good thing for the environment because it potentially will release less carbon emissions and slow down the rate of global warming that is currently taking place in our atmosphere.

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