Your child’s backpack may be hazardous to their health, according to health advocates protesting the high level of phthalates in products made from vinyl
De-tox for Disney The protesters at the Disney annual shareholders meeting last month at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix were as welcome as Wreck-It Ralph. The environmental health advocates called on the mega-corporation to stop making products for children that they claimed contained toxic chemicals. The children’s products they targeted were Disney lunch boxes, backpacks and rain coats, some of the most popular items for young students going back to school. These Disney school supplies contain phthalates in quantities up to 59 times the safety level for this category of chemical, according to a 2012 report by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. “We would like Disney to do what’s right and safeguard our children’s health by eliminating these unnecessary harmful chemicals and plastic,” said Steve Brittle, president of Don’t Waste Arizona, a statewide organization. Brittle pointed out that Latino children constitute a large percentage of the consumers of these school products. Disney markets to Hispanics in a big way, and that outreach will grow, according to a Disney consumer analysis. The number of Hispanic children between between the ages of 6 and 11 years old is expected to increase 40 percent by 2015, and 12
Latino Perspectives Magazine
¡ April 2013!
marketers will want to develop new ways to increase brand awareness and use by this group. Hispanic characters, such as Dora the Explorer and Princess Sofia (although her Hispanic ancestry has been debated), directly appeal to young Hispanics. The entertainment corporation also has Spanish-language websites, magazines and blogs, and quinceañera balls at their Disney resorts. Disney has publicly denied that their vinyl products pose dangers. “Producing safe and high quality products is our top priority and we meet or exceed all applicable safety standards set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the FDA and numerous other safety organizations,” they said in a statement. Phthalates have been banned in toys because of their link to birth defects, ADHD, asthma and other health conditions. Brittle emphasized that Hispanic women should be concerned, because they have a higher fertility rate than other populations. According to test results by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children are the most vulnerable to exposure to these hazardous chemicals. The CDC also reported that many common housuehold plastic products contain phthalates.
Other protest tactics used by environmental health advocates include on-line petitions to Disney on change.org and MomsRising.org.
Green lessons from California Omar Benitez, a 17-year-old senior at Bioscience High School in Phoenix, combined his talent for bio-engineering with his interest in wildlife to help fabricate a prosthetic tail for Mr. Stubbs, a handicapped alligator. Benitez says his career goal is to attend Arizona State University and become a biomedical engineer. The courses he’s taking at Bioscience include engineering, algebra, geometry, physics, chemistry and biology. But, he also has learned to think critically about major issues such as pollution and global warming. His school is part of a growing trend of “green curricula” in public and charter schools across the country. California is a state leading in the new educational methods that Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has praised as “educating the next generation of environmental stewards.” Around Arizona, some schools are teaching their students to use calculators,