Toxic chemicals commonly found in dollar store items, testing shows

A Canadian environmental organization is calling for more transparency and better enforcement of national regulations of toxic chemicals after more than one quarter of items bought at popular dollar stores tested positive for substances such as lead.

The Environmental Defence report is based on an analysis of dozens of products, including electronics, toys, canned food and microwave popcorn.

Among the chief concerns is that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act currently only limits the level of toxic substances in what is considered the outwardly “accessible” part of a product.

The solder inside some earbuds and toys tested positive for lead levels 8,000 times above the maximum amount that is allowed on the outside of the items.

Environmental Defence’s toxics program manager Cassie Barker says a product can be broken or worn down, so the limits should apply to the whole thing instead of just the parts that are accessible when it is brand new.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says he will read the report and is open to making changes to the act, which is already in the midst of a legislative update that will be debated in the House of Commons this fall.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2022.