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March Badness! How toxic is your university fan gear?

by Rebecca Meuninck

It’s March and if you live in a college town like I do, that means one thing… MARCH MADNESS!!! This season, HealthyStuff.org is taking a look into the hazardous chemicals in our favorite University Themed products. We found some pretty nasty stuff in our favorite fan gear, that’s why we’re releasing our “March Badness” study today.

We started with nineteen Universities in the running for MTP or Most Toxic Product. On Wednesday, our supporters will choose one of four teams Duke University, Minnesota University, Texas University and Oregon State University to be the last team in the Shameful Sixteen.

Check out our results and choose who should advance to the Shameful Sixteen. Don’t delay! You have two days to vote. The MTP brackets lay out the toxicity rating of common gear fans buy to support their team from t-shirts, lunch bags and foldable chairs to flags and banners. We were disappointed that a lot of the items available at the nations Top Ten Retailers were full of toxics! For example, the Michigan State University Seat Cushion we brought at Kroger, the University of Florida Lunch Bag and University of Central Florida Car Mat, both from Walmart, contained both lead and phthalates. We think the only unhealthy things college basketball fans should be exposed to are beer, pizza and nacho cheese.


Yet, this popular college gear contains phthalates banned by CPSC and levels of lead that exceed CPSC regulation.  The seat cushion you sit on, the jersey you wear and that koozie that keeps your drink cool might contain harmful chemicals that are linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity, and cancer.

Many of the chemicals we found in the study contain chemicals of concern identified as Hazardous 100+ chemicals. HealthyStuff.org and our partners in the Mind the Store Campaign are asking the Top Ten Retailers to stop playing dirty by getting toxic chemicals out of the product on their store shelves. Join us in aksing them to clean up their act.

If you’re interested in finding out where your favorite college team stands in terms of its toxic gear, check out HealthyStuff.org’s ranking here.

By: Rebecca Meuninck, Environmental Health Campaign Director, Ecology Center  & HealthyStuff.org

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