Are Zhu Zhu Pets and Other Popular Toys Dangerously Toxic?
The hottest toy of this holiday season is a little electronic hamster named the Zhu Zhu Pet. The $9.99 toy is this season's Tickle Me Elmo and parents are lining up early to snatch one for their kids. Millions of these cute little toys have been sold, but a consumer products website called Good Guide claims that these toys contain some toxic chemicals. Is this a good reason to take these toys to the dumpster?
GoodGuide is a website that scores over 70,000 consumer products for their impact on health, the environment, and the society. In a recent report about popular holiday toys, the website reported that Zhu Zhu Pets has high levels of antimony and tin. However, the website does have a disclaimer that says these levels of chemicals "are not intended to correspond to levels known to cause health effects." In the case of the toxic metal antimony, it has to be ingested or absorbed to cause harm. GoodGuide found 93 parts per million in the fur of the Zhu Zhu Pet, and 106 parts per million on the nose of the Zhu Zhu Pet. These levels are above the federal limit of 60 parts per million, but the way Good Guide did the test is different from the federal safety tests. The federal testing measures soluble amounts of antimony, and the Zhu Zhu Pet has less than 2 parts per million of soluble antimony according to a safety review test. This means that a child has to eat quite a few of these hamsters to become poisoned by the antimony within. As a response, the manufacturer of Zhu Zhu Pets issued a press release that claims that all Zhu Zhu toys "are safe and compliant with all U.S. and European standards for consumer health and safety in toys."
Other popular toys that were tested by Good Guide included Lego Star Wars, ChixOS, and Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Farm. Lego Star Wars and ChixOS scored a clean bill of health, but the Learning Farm's tests revealed high levels of Chromium. The website also contains ratings for many products that you and I already have in our homes. It is definitely a good resource for consumers to research how green and healthy consumer products are, but I don't think it is necessary to throw away everything that has a potentially dangerous chemical because some of these chemicals are only dangerous if ingested in significant quantities. There are harmful chemicals in many everyday products, and most people have the common sense not to drink insect repellent or Windex.
Finally, I think it is always good practice to do research on the products you buy, but we also need to exercise some common sense in deciding what is truly dangerous. Otherwise we would fear everything out there.
What do you think? Have you thrown away your Zhu Zhu Pet?