A new study released by Environmental Defense in late August found the presence of heavy metals like lead and other toxic chemicals in children’s items sold at Dollarama and Dollar Tree.
The report uncovered the presence of phthalates, bisphenols and “forever chemicals” or PFAS in a variety of foods, toys and children’s items. These chemicals are particularly harmful to vulnerable populations such as children.
A children’s activity tracker and headphones contained more than 8,000 times the external lead found for children’s products.
“There is no regulation for lead in products, although these products tend to degrade and expose their dangerous hidden components,” said Cassie Barker, Senior Program Manager for Toxics at Environmental Defense. This regulatory loophole is a loophole that dollar stores use to sell high-lead products without breaking the law.”
According to the expert, there should be no safety limit for lead. Children’s products should simply not contain this dangerous substance.
According to the report, at least one in four products tested contained toxic chemicals, including lead in children’s products and electronics such as headphones.
All tested receipts contained Bisphenol-S (BPS).
All cans tested contained toxic chemicals (60% with BPA, 40% with PVC and polyester resin).
All microwave popcorn packages tested contained PFAS.
Exposure to heavy metals and hazardous chemicals, even at low levels, affects reproduction, behavior, metabolism and chronic diseases such as cancer, asthma and diabetes.
Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of these products due to their rapidly growing bodies.
Toxic exposures are also associated with learning disabilities such as low IQ, autism spectrum, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The report highlights the failure of Canada’s regulatory system to adequately protect public health, particularly populations disproportionately affected by toxic substances.
Already facing systemic economic barriers, many low-income and racist communities cannot avoid toxic exposures by choosing more expensive, non-toxic alternatives.
“Racialized and low-income communities are being targeted by low-cost retailers who are selling pollutant-laden products to these communities despite their own environmental and social responsibility reports,” lamented the Dright Ingrid Waldron, executive director of the Environmental Harm, Racial Inequalities and Community Health (ENRICH) project, a collaborative research and community engagement project on environmental racism in Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities.
“For individuals and communities whose only accessible retail option is a discount store, we need to ensure they enjoy the same protections as those whose financial, geographic and socioeconomic privileges allow them to escape these toxic burdens,” she added.