A new study published in late August by Environmental Defense found the presence of heavy metals, such as lead, and other toxic chemicals in children’s items sold at Dollarama and Dollar Tree.
The report revealed the presence of phthalates, bisphenols and “eternal chemicals” or PFAS in a variety of foods, toys, and children’s items. These chemicals are particularly harmful to vulnerable populations such as children.
An activity tracker and headphones for children contained more than 8,000 times the established external lead level for children’s products.
“There is a lack of regulation for lead in products, despite the tendency of these products to break down and expose their dangerous hidden components,” said Cassie Barker, senior program manager for Toxics at Environmental Defence. This regulatory loophole is a loophole that dollar stores use to sell products that contain high levels of lead without breaking the law.”
According to the expert, there should be no safety limit for lead. Children’s products simply should 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 receipts tested 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.
Exposures to heavy metals and dangerous chemicals, even in small amounts, have impacts on 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 linked to 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, especially populations disproportionately affected by toxic substances.
Many low-income and racialized communities already face systemic economic barriers and cannot avoid toxic exposures by choosing more expensive toxic-free alternatives.
“Racialized and low-income communities are targeted by low-cost retailers who, despite their own environmental and social responsibility report, sell products to these communities loaded with harmful substances,” lamented the Dr 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 must ensure they are afforded equal protection as those whose financial, geographic and socio-economic privileges allow them to get out of these toxic exposures,” she added.