7 Dollar Store Items Making You Sick

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Dollar store deals might look like a bargain from the outside: everything usually is a dollar or at least close to it. But looking at the harmful product ingredients it can turn out to be not a bargain after all.

Recent testing of dollar store products found that nearly 81% contained one or more hazardous chemicals. The tests, conducted by a third party consumer testing group, found chemicals associated with cancer, obesity, diabetes, asthma, thyroid and kidney diseases, learning problems, lower IQ, birth defects and early puberty. Here are five items you should think about buying from elsewhere.

7. Black Plastic Utensils

The black solid color spoons, spatulas and forks may contain high levels of bromine, a component in flame retardants or BFRs. Though these are added to make the products resistant to fire, they have been linked to cancer, birth defects and impaired brain development. That ingredient has effectively been phased out in the U.S. but they are still available in these cheap, dollar store utensils.

6. Plastic Silly Straws

Silly straws found in the dollar store have tested high for the level of DEHP used in consumer products. Some phthalates interfere with the body’s endocrine system, and studies have linked them to asthma and allergies, prostate and testicular cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

What To Do: The official brand of “Silly Straws” and non-plastic straws (look for recycled cardboard) are BPA and PVC free.

5. Old School Toys

You may see a toy from your childhood that had fun with growing up, but it could be toxic now. Just because an item doesn’t have an expiration date doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to buy it. Sometimes dollar stores sell factory closeouts, which means their stock may be old and should not be purchased. For example, plastic toys made before 2008 are more likely to contain pthalates than toys made since 2008, the year that pthalates were banned from being included in children’s toys.

4. Plastic food containers

Think you can use and reuse those “to-go” food containers? Think again. Although they’re considered a bargain at dollar stores, and they’re super convenient in terms of organizing your kitchen, plastic food containers may contain pthalates, which cause reproductive problems in lab animals and are found in high levels, especially in women, in the U.S. population. Over 30 percent of some dollar store products tested had higher levels than are recommended in products used for children. 

3. Styrofoam cups and plates

Styrene is a known carcinogen. It’s widely used in the manufacturing of styrofoam cups, plates, and packing peanuts—and a lot of other household goods. Chronic exposure to these kinds of styrofoam products can result in more severe effects including depression, headaches, fatigue, weakness, hearing loss, and disrupted kidney function.

What To Do: Plastic cups are a better and quick option

2. Vinyl Floor Coverings

Flexible, adhesive bath mats from dollar stores have tested high in both phthalates and chlorine.

Exposures to these phthalates affect multiple parts of our bodies.

What To Do: Avoid any products labeled “vinyl” on the label.

1. Cheap Cleaning Products

It may look similar to your higher-end cleaning products, but some cheap dollar cleaning liquids contain formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen found in a variety of cleaning products, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What To Do: When it comes to cleaning spaces and dishes that you use frequently, go ahead and buy the higher-priced/healthier cleaner. It may cost more, but it’ll give you peace of mind and that’s priceless.

BONUS: Holiday Lights

Shopping at the dollar store during the holidays can save us a lot of money, but at what cost to our health?

There are high levels of chlorine and bromine, including flame-retardant chemicals in these have been linked to cancer and thyroid problems and some “slightly defective” electronics may be available for purchase, but may not be as safe for home use.

What To Do: When buying holiday lights, check the tags to make sure they are ROHS-compliant.

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