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The smell of plastic.   It brings back memories of kiddie pools, beach toys, and those fun rafts for the pool, doesn’t it?   Well, that smell is the combination of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other plasticizers, like phthalates, that result is cancer-causing contaminants, for both people and the environment. PVC is known as the “poison plastic” and the danger with the use of PVC in summer toys or pools is that when exposed to heat it releases the phthalates which are an endocrine disruptor (read more here). Clearly, this is very concerning since most pools sit in the sun for hours at a time.

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How to shop for a safe kiddie pool?

What to look for

PVC-free versions seem to be getting harder to find, fortunately, some hard plastic pools are still being made with LDPE which means low-density polyethene labelled as #4; also look for polyethene labelled as #2.

What to avoid

In order to avoid PVC sometimes you have to decode labels. PVC sometimes is labelled as just vinyl or with recycling symbol #3

What if  you can’t find a PVC-free pool?

The benefits that come with introducing small children to water play surpasses, in my opinion, the risks of having a toxic pool. However, there are ways to reduce the risk of exposure to toxins by changing the water often, keeping them away from direct sunlight if possible, and you can even buy a used one; a used pool means it’s had more time to off-gas. But be careful, a really old pool can also be hazardous due to its plastic degradation.   Keep in mind the softer the plastic the more toxic it is, so stay away from inflatable pools (at least most of them) and opt for a harder plastic.

Some safe options:

This cute sandbox and pool combination by Little Tikes is made from polypropylene #5. It is a good option because #5 plastics can easily be recycled. (check out this pool here)

Here is another great option, it is PBA, PVC, and phthalate free, you can even ask the company for a report and it is available upon request.

You most economical, and often most convenient, is your average hard plastic kiddie pool from the grocery store. These can be found from Target to even the local Kroger (or similar supermarket). They are usually made of #4 plastic (LDPE, low-density polyethene) which means they can be recycled too.

Now you can feel knowing your kiddos are safe while having some water fun. Just don’t forget to practice good sun safety, and apply a safe sunscreen, and you and your family can enjoy some safe fun in the sun!


Happy Summer!


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