A report released in 2015 will likely have you shopping somewhere besides your local dollar store or discount retailer soon. After testing 164 dollar-store products, researchers found that over 81% (133 of 164) contained at least one hazardous chemical that was present in high enough concentrations to raise serious health concerns. 
Stores like Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and 99 Only were all culprits – selling the public items like toys, jewelry, and personal care supplies that contained carcinogenic, or otherwise hazardous chemicals.
What’s worse, many of the stores found to be carrying toxic items were in areas of the country called ‘food deserts,’ where the nearest grocery store or shopping center is miles away from residential homes. This means that low income individuals who already live in polluted areas are also being subjected to high levels of toxins just by going on a simple trip to their local discount store.
Jose T. Bravo, National Coordinator for the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, said:
“People struggling to make ends meet are confined to shopping at the Dollar stores. We are already disproportionately affected by pollution and lack of adequate medical care, and now we know we’re filling our homes and our bodies with chemicals released from Dollar store products. This needs to stop. “
Jeff Gearhart, HealthyStuff Research Director, said:
“We’ve tested 1,000′s of products from dozens of retailers over the last ten years. And on average the dollar store products are some of the poorest performing from a chemical hazard perspective. I am particularly concerned about the comparatively high percentage of products containing hazardous plasticizers. “
The chemicals found in Dollar store products tested for in the report included:
- Phthalates, linked to birth defects, reduced fertility, cancer, learning disabilities, diabetes, and other health issues
- Polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC or vinyl), which creates hazards throughout its life cycle and has been linked to asthma and lung effects
- Toxic metals such as lead, which impairs brain development, leading to learning disabilities, lower IQ, and more
The report suggests further that:
- 38% of the products tested (63 out of 164) contained vinyl plastic.
- Of the vinyl products, 38 were tested for plasticizers. 32% (12 out of 38) of these contained toxic phthalates above the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) limits for children’s products.
- Three products contained a phthalate (DiBP), found to be toxic by the CPSC. One product contained another unregulated phthalate (DDP), for which data is lacking on carcinogenic, reproductive, and developmental effects.
Example Products with Toxic Chemicals
- Dollar General retailed Headbands: 18.9% DiBP and 1,000 ppm antimony
- Family Dollar retailed Custom Grip Steering Wheel Cover: 16.7% DEHP, 1.7% DINP, 0.20% DIBP, 0.11% DDP
- Dollar Tree retailed Spider Man Dog Tags: 153 ppm lead, 11,500 ppm bromine, 3,000 ppm antimony, 140 ppm tin (product image)
Here is a report summary by retailer.
Everything from baby bottles to extension cords and eye shadows also contained toxic chemicals.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.