Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Safer Summer Fun - Kiddie Pools

The weather this year has gone from Winter to Summer in the blink of an eye. I'm not sure where Spring went but we've gone from wearing warm jackets two weeks ago to ninety degrees! Time to get a little wading pool for the backyard but with so many made of vinyl, what are some safer choices? Here are a few PVC-free and phthalate-free pools to consider:

The hard-plastic, molded "baby pools", like the one pictured above, can be purchased at Walmart, Target, Kmart, and Toys R Us. They are typically made from either LDPE (low density polyethylene - #4) or polyethylene (#2). These are PVC and phthalate-free options that are also easy on the pocket book ($7-$20 depending on size). Most areas have #2 and #4 plastic recycling so when you are finished, recycle it!

Little Tikes Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool is a cute molded plastic option made from polypropylene (#5). This pool is a bit small so only good for small toddlers, or skip the sandbox, fill both sides with water and give 2 children their own pool area. This one also comes with an umbrella to provide some shade and folds up for easy storage. Little Tikes products generally hold up well and can often be re-sold or passed on helping to be more eco-friendly. Another bonus: #5 plastics can be easily recycled.

Another fun molded plastic pool is the Step2 Play and Shade Pool. Step 2 is a favorite of mine when it comes to plastic play toys. They are PVC, Phthalate, and BPA-free and most products are made in the USA. This fun pool has 3 funnel cups and a spinning water wheel that attaches to a multi-color umbrella. It also has 2 molded-in seats and a textured bottom to provide traction for little feet.

Phthalate-free Vinyl Pools like Little Tikes' Whale Slide Pool, Whale Shade Pool, Crab Shade Pool, 2-Ring Sea Friends Pool, or 2-Ring Monkey Pool, aren't the best choice since they are still made from PVC but they do not contain the phthalates*. These range from $10-$25 and are available at most toy stores. The downside is that PVC often cannot be recycled.

So pick the pool that works for you!

Now you're ready to fill the pool. Did you know that most garden hoses contain lead? If you read the packing most say not to use for drinking water. When the hose has been sitting in the sun it leaches lead that comes out the next time you run the water. A safer choice? Get a hose that says "for drinking water" or "Marine/RV-use". These are lead-free and phthalate-free options.

According to the Environmental Working Group, "phthalates, called “plasticizers,” are a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible or resilient and also as solvents. Phthalates are nearly ubiquitous in modern society, found in, among other things, toys, food packaging, hoses, raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, lubricants, adhesives, detergents, nail polish, hair spray and shampoo.

Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system. Several phthalate compounds have caused reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy and structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals, and some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s 2005 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals."

Phthalates can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled as fumes or dust, or ingested when they are present in food or when children mouth toys. They are bio-accumulative and have been found in human urine and breast milk.

PVC-Free, Phthalate-Free, Pool

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