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Proceed with caution when you buy back-to-school supplies.  Some school supplies have harmful chemicals in them that can impact children’s learning and brain development. Here are some tips for finding safer school supplies:

  • Look for PVC-Free, BPA-Free, Phthalate-Free and Fragrance-Free Supplies
  • When possible, avoid purchasing anything with phthalates and PVC by avoiding any products with the word “vinyl” on them or Recycling Code 3 when purchasing school supplies, shoes, backpacks, etc. For example, buy canvas or cloth pencil holders instead of the plastic ones.
  • Avoid colored paper clips because they may be coated with PVC.  Stick with the plain metal ones.
  • For lunches, try stainless steel water bottles and containers or ones that say BPA-free and Phthalates-free. For disposable dinnerware, look for bio-based (made with PLA or PHA plastics).
  • Try to avoid anything with chlorine.  Look for recycled paper products or those marked chlorine-free
  • Look for markers that are non-toxic and are free from artificial fragrances.

Lead in drinking water:

  • Ask your school if they have tested for lead in drinking and cooking faucets and if they have, ask for the test results. If they have not tested, encourage them to test.
  • Test your own home water for lead.

Additional Toxic Plastics to Avoid:

ABS—acrylonitrile butadiene styrene



We cannot avoid all harmful chemicals, but anything you can do to reduce exposure for your children is helpful. Do what you can.

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