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Why the Precautionary Principle Matters for Kids Toys

Why the Precautionary Principle Matters for Kids Toys

November 11, 2014

By Gigi Lee Chang

What Is The Precautionary Principle Anyway?

Don’t do something unless you know it’s safe. Sounds like good common sense, right? Turns out this smart approach has a name. It’s called the Precautionary Principle. We’re big on it at Healthy Child. Sure, there are a fair amount of things we know to be true. Lead, for example, is a known neurotoxin. It’s critical to minimize children’s exposure to lead.

But in the environmental health realm, there is a fair amount that is less black and white than lead. There are substances and chemicals we suspect are unsafe, especially when it comes to growing bodies, but the studies on their safety are ongoing. Definitive data isn’t available yet. When this is the case, invoking the Precautionary Principle is worthwhile. Faced with the unknown, it’s a good idea to avoid potential harm if and where possible, especially when children are involved.

We didn’t come up with this theory. Far from it. It has been around since the 1960s, with roots in Sweden and Germany. Today it is widely used in environmental circles, including agreements, and law, all over the world. The World Trade Organization calls it “a notion which supports taking protective action before there is complete scientific proof of a risk; that is, action should not be delayed simply because full scientific information is lacking.”

The Precautionary Principle is easy to rely on—at home, at school, at daycare, visiting the grandparents, at the playground—whenever faced with the unknown. And it never gets old. When researching our new e-book, Easy Steps to Safer Toys and Gear, we found ourselves thinking just how pertinent the Precautionary Principle is. There is no consistent or reliable way for parents to know the exact ingredients in the art bin’s crayons, which chemical treatments—if any—are on the dress up clothes, or even which filler makes that stuffed bunny so round. Faced with so much unknown is incredibly frustrating. Who wants to be thinking about unsafe pigments when scribbling pictures with their kids? Taking precautionary measures is key.

Education and precaution go hand in hand. To safeguard young bodies, parents need to be up to date on safer art supplies, costumes, and stuffed animals. A good first step? Download our new free e-book now. It’s filled with advice and tips rooted in the Precautionary Principle. Then you can get back to drawing and playing.
Read More: 
Are Stuffed Animals Safe: Choose a Safe Toy For Kids

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