February 4, 2015
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions – a group of over 100 health, community, and environmental justice organizations around the country – released a report about toxic chemicals found in dollar store products. The report – A Day Late And A Dollar Short: Discount Retailers are Falling Behind on Safer Chemicals – includes testing results for 164 dollar store products such as toys, jewelry, school supplies and other household items, that found over 81% (133 of 164) contained at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern.
The campaign also sent a letter today to the CEO's of the four largest Dollar store chains -- including Family Dollar (tentatively acquired by Dollar Tree on January 22), Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and 99 Cents Only – urging them to stop the sale of products with hazardous chemicals to communities of color and low-income families, who already live in more polluted areas and "food deserts," and adopt policies that will protect both customers and their businesses. Combined these discount chains have sales totaling over $36 billion and operate more stores nationally than Walmart.
The chemicals of concern found in Dollar store products tested for this report include: phthalates, linked to birth defects, reduced fertility, cancer, learning disabilities, diabetes, and other health issues; polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC or vinyl), which creates hazards throughout its life cycle and has been linked to asthma and lung effects; and toxic metals such as lead, which harms brain development, leading to learning disabilities, lower IQ, and cause other serious health impacts, especially in children.
Other key findings from A Day Late And A Dollar Short include:
In addition, 40% of sales at Dollar stores go toward food products (not tested for this report) – much of which is highly processed with low nutritional quality, and whose packaging is another potential source of toxic chemicals including bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic hormone linked to breast and others cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease.
Fortunately, there is a growing movement by mainstream retail and manufacturing brands – including Target and Walmart – to respond to consumer demand for safer products with publicly-available corporate policies that identify, disclose, and replace priority toxic chemicals with safer alternatives. By failing to address toxic chemicals through comprehensive policies, Dollar chains are not only putting their customers at risk, they are exposing their businesses to the fate of companies like Mattel, which lost 18% of its value after recalling toys with lead paint, and Sigg USA, which went bankrupt after failing to disclose toxic BPA in its water bottles.
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is asking for a comprehensive set of reforms, including that:
View and download general campaign photos here.
View and download photos of products tested here.
View and download the report, A Day Late And A Dollar Short.
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is led by Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform. Participating organizations include: Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Environmental Health, Clean and Healthy New York, Clean Production Action, Clean Water Action, Coming Clean, Greenpeace, Healthy Building Network, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Lideres Campesinas, Los Jardines Institute, Moms Clean Air Force, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Women's Voices for the Earth.