TOXIC chemicals found in plastic toys and electronic gadgets can harm children’s brain development, a study found.
Exposure to even low levels of organophosphate esters (OPEs), designed to make products fire-proof, may harm youngsters’ IQ, attention and memory.
The chemicals are used in many toys, smartphones, pushchairs, mattresses and pieces of furniture and after previous flame-retardants were found to cause cancer and fertility problems.
Dr Heather Patisaul, of Carolina State University, said: “The use of organophosphate esters in everything from TVs to car seats has proliferated under the false assumption that they’re safe.
“Unfortunately, these chemicals appear to be just as harmful as the chemicals they’re intended to replace but act by a different mechanism.
“Organophosphate esters threaten the brain development of a whole generation. If we don’t stem their use now, the consequences will be grave and irreversible.
“In many products, they serve no essential function while posing a serious risk, especially to our children.”
OPEs are used in many consumer products to meet fire safety regulations.
Previous studies have found OPEs can transfer from a product, such as a smartphone, on to a person’s face and hands and into their body.
Tests have even found OPEs present in breastmilk, meaning they can be transferred directly to a feeding baby.
The new study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, concluded that OPEs should be eliminated or reduced “as quickly as possible”.
It said: “Alternatives should be assessed for essential uses and investment made in developing innovative solutions without the use of harmful chemicals.
“Based on scientific research and education, government and business should be able to rapidly reduce new uses of OPEs for healthier products, people and ecosystems."
It comes after a new report found almost half of toys sold online could be lethal to your kid.
It followed a two-year-old girl being left in a critical condition after swallowing 14 magnets, thinking they were sweets.
Becca McCarthy swallowed the brightly coloured balls bought from eBay when mum Sam was not looking. She had to have her intestines removed in order to get the toys out.
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