In 1998 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that phthalates leaching out of children’s plastic toys, toys they put in their mouth, may exceed acceptable levels and that when adult volunteers mouthed toys, the result was 39.5 times higher than simulated lab tests showed.
Now, according to a study out of Texas Tech University, plastic toys might be exposing dogs to harmful chemicals, two of which are bisphenol-A (BPA) and phtalates. Philip Smith, co-author of the study and a toxicologist at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech, became curious about how these toys may be affecting his own dogs. “Some of the dogs are exposed to plastic bumpers from the time they are born until the day they die,” said Smith to Environmental Health News.
The study: How much BPA and phtalates leached from orange and white plastic bumper toys into dishes filled with artificial dog saliva and compared both those that were left outside to those that were subjected to simulated chewing.
Since simulated chewing and artificial saliva were used, researchers aren’t sure exactly what the quantity of chemicals leaching into a dogs mouth would be, but, according to Smith, they believe the amount would be high if compared to children’s toys. They also tested other types of pet toys and found that while higher concentrations of BPA and phtalates leached from bumper toys, other toys also leached hormonally-active chemicals.
Wear and tear from chewing place stress on the chemical bonds and allow individual molecules to be released,” said Laura Vandenberg, a reproductive scientist from Tufts University in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the effects weren’t studied, so no one is sure whether these substances pose a health risk to pets. Most of the research that has been conducted has focused on products that humans use, although BPA and phtalates have been associated with a number of problems in humans and rodents, such as certain types of cancer, defects, early onset puberty in females, reproductive impairment, obesity and behavioral problems.
The U.S., Canada and the European Union have banned some phthalates in toys for children and the FDA has banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups intended for toddlers in response to a request from the American Chemistry Council.
The researchers involved in this study believe that this area should be further explored and consumers should be educated about the potential risks.
So, if you’re concerned about your dogs and their plastic toys, look for companies that offer BPA- and phtalate-free toys, including Planet Dog, Nylabone, West Paw Design, Chewber, Jolly Pets and Kong. Etsy also has a few sellers who make eco-friendly pet products, like Wag Rags, among others