I and many other parents, were deeply concerned to learn that children may be exposed to dangerous chemicals found in Dora the Explorer backpacks.
Millions of our children are heading back to school with a plethora of new items for the start of the school year. The problem is that many of these school items are made out of PVC (vinyl) and contain phthalates. From manufacture to disposal, PVC releases toxic chemicals harmful to children’s health, and is widely considered the most toxic plastic that children’s items could be made of. Products made from PVC have been found to contain excessively high levels of toxic chemicals called phthalates.
Phthalates, which are used to soften vinyl, are linked to diseases like cancer and asthma, developmental disabilities like autism and ADHD, and concerning conditions such as early puberty and birth defects. Indeed phthalates are so concerning that the federal government has limited the amount of phthalates in items, like toys, that are geared to young children. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) recently announced in a new report that Dora the Explorer branded merchandise had over 69 times the federal permissible levels of phthalates that are of concern.
As a filmmaker, I am acutely aware of the health problems associated with phthalates. In the making of my film Toxic Baby, I saw images of two and three year old girls with breasts and pubic hair and spoke to parents who had young children going through premature puberty. Studies on these girls showed elevated levels of phthalates and other studies have found that same association between phthalate levels and puberty. The same phthalates found in the Dora the Explorer merchandise marketed to two and three year old kids. Premature puberty is a risk factor for developing breast cancer. For the film I was tested for toxic chemicals and most of the young girls with breasts and pubic hair had higher levels of the phthalates found in the Dora products than I did. And it's not just girls that are affected by this: boys are too.
We parents know that Nickelodeon values the role that Dora the Explorer plays in the lives of millions of our children, which is why we ask them to eliminate the use of phthalates and PVC in Dora and other Nickelodeon licensed products, with safer PVC free alternatives that are already in widespread use. The Safe Chemicals Act sitting in the Senate would protect our children if passed, but we cannot wait for legislation. Our children need to be protected now. Nickelodeon is valued as a trusted brand for children, but if we can no longer trust Nickelodeon to ensure that their merchandise is safe, we will have no chance but to take our purchasing power to another company that understands and responds to our concerns.
Join concerned parents in signing this petition that asks the President of Nickelodeon, Cyma Zarghami (who is also a mom), to please do the right thing. Other leading companies such as Apple, Google and Nike have commitments to eliminate phthalates and vinyl from their product lines. Retailers like Target and Wal-Mart sell PVC free children’s items. Nickelodeon, who programs and markets to society’s most vulnerable citizens should join them. Tell Nickelodeon to act now to protect our children by removing toxic phthalates and PVC from Dora and all of their merchandising.
You can follow the progress of this petition on the Toxic Baby blog: toxicbaby.com/blog
You can read the full report that tested the Dora products at the CHEJ site: chej.org
And you can find out more about how toxic chemicals can affect the health and development of babies and children from the Toxic Baby TED Talk: on.ted.com/ToxicBaby
Thank you for standing with concerned parents from across the globe.