Avoid Hazardous Supplies When Back-To-School Shopping

If you’re back-to-school shopping for your kids, here are a few guidelines for what to buy—and what not to buy, as well as some tips for inspecting the local playground and soccer field:

  • Make sure all art supplies carry a label that says: “Conforms to ASTM D-4236.” This means that the product conforms to the Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act. This law says that all art materials be reviewed to determine the potential for causing a chronic health hazard and that appropraite warning labels be placed on the materials. The law applies to many children’s toy products such as crayons, chalk, paint sets, modeling clay, coloring books, pencils, and any other products used by children to produce a work of visual or graphic art.
  • Avoid clothing that has hood or neck drawstrings. Most children’s clothes are already free of neck drawstrings that can tangle and cause accidents and death—but its your responsibility to check your children’s clothes yourself. Drawstrings are easy to remove.
  • Take a look at your child’s playground to make sure there is a layer of wood chips or other shock absorbing material to help cushion falls. Make sure portable soccer goals are securely anchored so they won’t topple over and crush anyone. The CPSC says 28 children have been killed by soccer goals since 1979.
  • Provide the correct helmet for the correct activity. Football helmets for football, etc.

Consumerist would also add that it’s a good idea to avoid cheap metal jewelry when back-to-school shopping because of possible lead contamination. Also, cheap jewelry is tacky. Let’s face it.

CPSC Urges Parents to Help Children Avoid Injuries As They Head Back to School [CPSC]


Edit Your Comment

  1. NickRB says:

    You may also want to consider locking your child up, or putting them into a bubble. That way they can’t be beat up for having an overprotective parent.

  2. Dibbler says:

    It doesn’t matter what you buy for your kids. Your kid is at the mercy of the poor kids parents because the school just puts them all in a big box and the kids share them. This way the poor kids don’t feel bad because their parents bought the lead encrusted Chinese crayons from Walmart instead of the Crayola brand or the paste made of lead and anti-freeze instead of Elmers.

  3. Amelie says:

    “Make sure all art supplies carry a label that says: “Conforms to ASTM D-4236.” This means that the product conforms to the Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act. This law says that all art materials be reviewed

    Yeah right. Considering most stuff is made in China and our government randomly checks – I wouldn’t trust it. I think I’ll stick with European art supplies from stores such as [www.waldorfsupplies.com]

  4. Amelie says:

    Not all schools do this not all Crayola products are “made in the USA.”

  5. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    At my local Wal-Mart last week, I noticed that the cheap 24-count box was 39 cents, but the Crayolas were 5 for a dollar. Cool.

  6. chimmike says:


    yup, or you may consider teaching your child not to eat glue, lick permanent markers, or shove crayons up their noses.

    You know, parenting sort of stuff, right?

    God forbid the kid gets a scraped elbow or something, who do you sue for that?

  7. alice_bunnie says:


    I was going to comment something eerily similar. I am a mother of 4, so it’s not like I don’t care about children’s safety.

    I also love how they quote number of children killed by goal posts in the last 30 years. I want to know how many in a reasonable amount of time. I guess I should worry that billions of people have died in the last couple of centuries.

  8. Chairman-Meow says:

    Now I’ll have to add “child-sized Styrofoam wrap” and Industrial strength bubble-wrap-me-up! so that my child is safe at school.

    Thank god I already got her the bulletproof backpack and the keflar flak jacket during the big sale.

  9. Gopher bond says:

    When I was in second grade we had iron monkey bars and jungle gyms. You were really cool if you climbed to the top rung and hung by the back of your knees. One kid thought he was cool and was not as he fell and smashed his face. Over the weekend they came in a removed all the monkey bars and jungle gyms and left us with barren boring slab of asphalt. I think that kid ended up going to a different school because everyone hated him for his parents. They insisted on the bars being removed so this wouldn’t happen again.

  10. etinterrapax says:

    Good grief. If the CPSC could get back on the Chinese poison train issues and off of how to prevent bumps and scrapes, perhaps we could have the whole lead debacle vigorously licked before I’m old. I feel sorry for a kid who has never experienced scabs. Don’t they want kids to have hobbies anymore?

  11. Dibbler says:

    @testsicles: I was in elementary school in the 70’s and we had a playground covered in asphalt. One kid fell off the top of the old metal slide and broke his arm. Teachers told us all not to fall off anymore and that was the end of it. In today’s world to school would have been sued and the playground closed… Great times to be alive…

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    What, no mentioning of kevlar backpacks? Concealed firearm permits so the 3rd graders can fight back? They must REALLY hate America’s children.

    (except the Chinese toxic stuff, American junk food and high fructose corn syrup, which really are harmful)

  13. ekthesy says:


    MY elementary school playground had a metal balance beam that snaked about 3″ above the ground. I was being chased by Brendan, the school bully, tripped over one end of the thing and smacked my forehead on another part of it.

    Oh yes, there was blood, and a trip to the ER, and stitches. And there is still a small scar on my forehead. But this was 1983, so there was no lawsuit.

    Epilogue: the balance beam was finally removed in 1995.

  14. theblackdog says:

    @testsicles: I had one like that but it was shaped like this big tower. I hope it’s still there, but probably not. It was kind of loose on the bottom because of years of sitting in the concrete so it would sway. Our favorite thing was to all go to the top and start shaking it…used to freak the teachers out.

    *sigh* Those were the days.

  15. hoo_foot says:

    Don’t scoff at the soccer goal safety tip, folks. A member of my graduating class was killed during gym class by an unsecure soccer goal. It takes less than a minute to check the goal and it’s unfortunate that a teen had to die because the gym teachers were too lazy to do this.

  16. infinitysnake says:

    Actually, that’s bad advice, because it does not mean non-toxic, it simply means there’s a warning if it is- so you’re just as likely to be buying properly labeled poison as non-toxic school supplies. Better advice would be buying only reliable brands made specifically for children’s use.