Are ABS Plastic Toys Safe?
ABS stands for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. It is made by polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the presence of polybutadiene--15 to 35% acrylonitrile, 5 to 30% butadiene and 40 to 60% styrene. It can be recycled.
Acrylonitrile is a synthetic monomer produced from propylene (from petroleum, natural gas or coal) and ammonia.
Butadiene is a petroleum hydrocarbon obtained from butane gas.
Styrene is commercially obtained from benzene and ethylene from coal. The MSDS for ABS plastic pipe gives no health effects but warns that if it is burned, the combustion by-products are toxic. It lists acrylonitrile and styrene as hazardous ingredients, but they are present in very small amounts. Since ABS can have varying amounts of each ingredient, the safety of your toy may not be the same as these pipes.
I can't say with certainty how safe or harmful your toy may be. As a rule, I recommend toys made from natural materials over plastics to be on the safe side. There are many natural toys available from websites listed on the Toy page of Debra's List.
This answer was provided by our friend, Debra Lynn Dadd. Hailed as "The Queen of Green" by the New York Times, Debra Lynn Dadd has been a pioneering consumer advocate since 1982, specializing in products and lifestyle choices that are safer for human health and the environment. She is the author of Home Safe Home.