E-waste pollutes plastics in popular toy

A recent global survey has found that recycling plastics containing toxic flame retardant chemicals found in electronic waste results in contamination of a (still, remarkably) best-selling toy. These chemical contaminants, which can damage the nervous system and reduce intellectual capacity, find their way into Rubik’s Cubes.

The study was performed by IPEN and Arnika. The toxic chemicals, OctaBDE, DecaBDE, and HBCD, are used in the plastic casings of electronic products and if they are not removed, they are carried into new products when the plastic is recycled. The survey of products from 26 countries found that 90% of the samples contained OctaBDE or DecaBDE. Nearly half of them (43%) contained HBCD.

These chemicals are known to harm the reproductive system and disrupt hormone systems, adversely impacting intelligence and memory. “Recycling materials that contain toxic chemicals contaminates new products, continues exposure, and undermines the credibility of recycling,” said Pam Miller, IPEN Co-chair. “Governments should end this harmful loophole.”

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