Back-to-school season is here and in full swing, and as kids huff about needing to return to school, parents have likely been readying themselves for some back-to-school shopping.

Most parents worry about purchasing the right items for their children, but there’s something else that they need to be concerned with – toxic components in school supplies.

Conducting random tests on a variety of different kinds of school supplies is an annual exercise by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

This year, they purchased 27 back-to-school items and had them examined at an independent laboratory.

The results that came back are, frankly, pretty scary.

Of the 27 items tested, some of which also included brand name items, a large amount of them came back positive for a variety of carcinogens and toxic substances.

It’s a frightening prospect, but with that being said, most of these substances found were only present in trace amounts, or at least, very small amounts.

Image Credit: Kemberly Groue – U.S. Air Force

As a matter of fact, it is completely legal for some kinds of school items to have certain amounts of different harmful substances, including asbestos – and this is in spite of many experts warning that young children should not be exposed to them.

Here are some of the particularly worrying results found by U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s tests.

1. A pack of 36 crayons by the brand Playskool, purchased from a Dollar Tree store branch, was found to contain tremolite. Tremolite is a kind of asbestos, and asbestos, in turn, is a type of fibrous mineral. Asbestos has been suggested to cause mesothelioma and even cancer upon inhalation.

Image Credit: Pixabay

2. Some dry-erase markers by the brand The Board Dudes, found on the Amazon website, was found to contain benzene. Benzene is a type of probable carcinogen and it may also prove to be damaging to the kidneys, liver, immune system, and reproductive organs.

3. A three-ring binder by the brand Jot, purchased from a Dollar Tree store branch, was found to contain phthalates. Phthalates are one of the few varieties of plastic softener, and the substance has been linked to ADD, asthma, obesity, and even decreased IQ scores in kids.

4. Two different water bottles by the brand Base Brands was found to contain lead. Lead is, as many known, a kind of neurotoxic chemical that has poisonous effects on most bodily organs. Base Brands has since recalled these bottles.

But it’s not just the U.S. Public Interest Research Group that has conducted tests with concerning results.

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice has performed a study on multiple bags and lunch boxes designed for children in previous years.

Their tests uncovered bags that contained phthalates. A Disney Princess lunch bag was found to have 29 times the federal limit of phthalates than would be considered acceptable on a children’s toy.

Meanwhile, a Dora the Explorer backpack was found to have 69 times the federal limit of phthalates than would be considered acceptable on a children’s toy.

Image Credit: Center for Health, Environment & Justice

In order to avoid purchasing these potentially harmful products, there’s a simple solution.

Simply search for a label by the Art and Creative Materials Institute known as the AP tag. This means that the products in question are certified to be nontoxic.

Image Credit: ACMI

Labels will also indicate whether they were made to meet the third-party lab testing guidelines set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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