Purpose of review: Consumer products are often overlooked as sources of children's exposures to toxic chemicals. Various regulatory bodies have developed lists of chemicals of concern that can be found in products contacted by children. However, this information has not been summarized for health practitioners. This review organizes such chemicals and products into four categories, with the antibacterial agent triclosan used to illustrate the potential risks to children from a common ingredient in consumer products.
Recent findings: Biomonitoring, house dust, indoor air, and product testing document children's exposures to a wide variety of chemicals. An increasing number of epidemiology studies have shown associations between these exposures and health effects in children. Triclosan is an example of a chemical contained in high contact products (e.g., soaps, lotions, and toothpaste) not necessarily designed for children. Triclosan exposure in children has been associated with increased responsiveness to airway allergens, with it also capable of endocrine disruption. However, the utility and necessity of this chemical in consumer products has not been demonstrated in most cases.
Summary: Triclosan and the other examples provided show that a changing marketplace with little regulatory oversight of chemical uses can lead to unanticipated exposures and potential health risks to children.