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January 03, 2015

Are You Decking the Halls With Toxic Tinsel?

Your stocking might be more toxic than the lump of coal sitting inside it. While the lights, garlands, bells, and balls springing up in your home are lovely, their toxic chemical load suggests that they were made by the Grinch, not happy elves, according to HealthyStuff.org, a project of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Testing seasonal products from major U.S. retailers, the nonprofit found that more than two-thirds contained at least one hazardous material at a concerning level. Thirteen percent contained lead above 100 parts per million (ppm), 35 percent contained chlorine greater than 1 percent by weight (suggesting that the product contained PVC plastics), 12 percent contained bromine above 800 ppm (suggesting use of toxic flame retardants), and 54 percent contained antimony at 100 ppm. (In case you were wondering, antimony is a metal linked to stomach ulcers, heart problems, and skin and lung irritation.)
Here are some of the worst holiday offenders found by HealthyStuff.org:
Toxic Tinsel 
• 12-foot Green Tinsel Garland, sold at Kroger, manufactured by Holiday Home, is 51 percent chlorine by weight.
• 18-foot Lighted Garland, sold at CVS, manufactured by Merry Brite, contains 10,200 ppm antimony; 65,800 ppm bromine; 310,000 ppm chlorine; 170 ppm lead; 2,300 ppm tin.
• 12-foot Red Tinsel Garland, sold at CVS, manufactured by Merry Brite, is 32 percent chlorine by weight.
• 24-inch Wreath, manufactured and sold by Target, has 230,000 ppm chlorine.
• 12-foot Snowflake Tinsel Garland, manufactured and sold by Target, contains 231,372 ppm chlorine in the main tinsel strand and more in each snowflake. 
• Tinsel Garland, sold at Walmart, manufactured by Holiday Time, contains 66,523 ppm chlorine.
• 15-foot Red and Gold Tinsel Garland, sold by Kroger, manufactured by Holiday Home, contains 80,000 ppm chlorine. 
Putrid Plastic Plants
• Holiday Swag Bundle (aka fake mistletoe), manufactured and sold by Target contains 670 ppm antimony; 2,400 ppm bromine; 24,700 ppm chlorine; and 152 ppm tin.
• Poinsettia Wreath, sold at Walmart, manufactured by Holiday Time, has 230 ppm antimony; 900 ppm bromine; 6,500 ppm chlorine; and 830 ppm lead.
• Decorative Pick (cluster of silver, glittery leaves), sold at Walmart, manufactured by Holiday Time contains 2,000 ppm bromine and 4,700 ppm chlorine.
• 9-foot Non-Lit Branch Garland, sold at Walmart, manufactured by Holiday Time contains 279,650 ppm chlorine.
• Velvet Poinsettias with Glitz, sold at Dollar Tree, manufactured by Christmas House, contains 105 ppm lead in the stem.
• Mini Wreath, sold at Dollar Tree, manufactured by Christmas House, contains 44 percent chlorine by weight.
• Poinsettia Pressed Vinyl Placemat, sold at Kroger, distributed by Benson Mills Company Inc, contains 635,000 ppm chlorine.
• Decorative Spray, sold at Dollar Tree, manufactured by Christmas House, contains 140 ppm arsenic.
Ghastly Garlands
• Red Gold Beaded Garland, sold at Lowe's, manufactured by Holiday Living, contains 29,400 ppm bromine; 137 ppm cadmium; 33,300 ppm chlorine; and over 100 ppm lead.
• Green Gold Red Beaded Garland, sold at Lowe's, manufactured by Holiday Living, contains 290 ppm antimony; 11,000 ppm bromine; 16,000 ppm chlorine; and 600 ppm lead.
• Red Bead Garland, sold at Kroger, manufactured by Holiday Home, contains 3,900 ppm antimony; 12,00 ppm bromine; 17,000 ppm chlorine; 140 ppm lead; and 150 ppm tin.
Sinister Santas
• Peanuts 10-inch Nutcracker, sold at CVS, contains 9,402 ppm chlorine in the red paint.
• Santa Hanging D├ęcor, sold at Walgreens, manufactured by Home Elements, contains 290 ppm antimony; 1,400 ppm bromine; and 1,300 ppm chlorine. 
Bad Bows
• Velvet Red Bow, sold by Lowe's, manufactured by Holiday Living, contains 18,300 ppm chlorine.
• Red Fabric Ribbon, sold at Kroger, manufactured by Holiday home, contains 4,300 ppm chlorine.
• Decorative Bows, sold at Dollar Tree, distributed by Greenbrier International, Inc, contain 426,000 ppm chlorine and 1,100 ppm tin.
Busted Bells
• Silver Jingle Bell Door Hanger, sold at Kroger, manufactured by Holiday Home, contains 150 ppm arsenic; 1,900 ppm chlorine; 170 ppm lead; and 1,500 ppm tin.
• Silver Bells, sold at Lowe's, manufactured by Holiday Living, contain 120,000 ppm chlorine and 373 ppm lead.
Check out their full ranking of all 69 tested items.
To have a chemical-free holiday, always opt for natural materials rather than synthetic ones. And check out these 9 ways to keep hazardous chemicals out of your home at the holidays and beyond. 

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