Here’s yet another one of those stories I wish we’d stop hearing: tests on vinyl baby bags by an Oakland, California environmental group have found excessive lead levels in certain brands. The Center for Environmental Health bought 60 diaper bags from leading retailers, tested their vinyl changing pads for lead, and found that six of the products exceeded the federal safety standard of 600 parts per million. The report is a little light on details as these things go, but it underscores a couple of points worth mentioning:
- First, vinyl just can’t be trusted. Period. Especially where our kids are concerned. Until phthalates (vinyl plasticizers) are banned and until federal regulators get their act together and start protecting consumers from toxic products (instead of the companies that make them!), vinyl should be avoided at all costs. It’s a high-risk material. And even if we could be assured of its safety, it still shouldn’t be considered a part of a healthy home because its chlorine-intensive manufacturing process is one of the most toxic around.
- In terms of infant and toddler products, almost all soft plastic should be on your official do-not-buy list. Unless you can verify that the plastic is safe (and many kinds are), don’t assume and don’t trust. It could be hiding chemical hazards and that’s not something you want to find out about in hindsight.
- If you do have a vinyl changing pad, cover it with a towel or other thick cloth before you use it. Don’t let your baby’s skin come into contact with it or any other vinyl. Replace the whole operation as soon as you can.
While we’re on the subject, this would be a good time to remind everyone that our Wee Generation diaper bag is almost ready for purchase. It’s vinyl-free and designed to protect both our babies and the world they’ll grow up in.