9 Items You Should Never Buy From The Dollar Store

In 2015, Healthy Stuff teamed up with the Campaign for Healthier Solutions and tested 164 products from four major dollar stores. The results showed that the majority (81%) of the products contained at least one toxic chemical such as antimony, arsenic, bromine, chlorine, lead, mercury and tin.

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Products formulated with polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) were tested twice and results showed that 32% of them contained toxic phthalates above the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) limit.

These hazardous chemicals have been linked to cancer, asthma, kidney diseases, birth defects and other serious health complications. To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, here's a list of items you should avoid buying from the dollar store:

1. Silly Straws

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Dollar store silly straws tested for high levels of DEHP, a phthalate used to soften plastic. Some phthalates have been linked to allergies, asthma, diabetes, prostate and testicular cancer. The CPSC bans DEHP and other harmful phthalates from children's products, but silly straws aren't marketed for children so legally there is no restriction on their DEHP content.

2. Steering Wheel Cover

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Dollar stores usually have a wide selection of steering wheel covers in a variety of prints and textures, but don't let the attractive designs fool you. Tests have shown that certain steering wheel covers contain higher than normal levels of chlorine and phthalates. Medium levels of antimony, a natural occurring metal that could possibly be a carcinogenic, were also detected.

3. Plastic Utensils

These hard plastic kitchen utensils from dollar stores tend to contain high levels of bromine. Although this is supposed to make them flame resistant, it has been linked to birth defects, slow brain development in children and cancer. Brominated flame retardants (BFR) have been banned in the U.S., but suppliers use recycled material, which usually contain BFRs, to manufacture their products. When it comes to utensils, stainless steel is the way to go.

4. Jewelry and Hair Accessories

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Many metal and plastic jewelry and hair accessories from discount retailers are composed of large amounts of lead and bromine, both of which are hazardous to one's health. Jeff Gearhart, research director of Healthy Stuff, estimates that "a single year's inventory of Mardi Gras beads may contain up to 900,000 pounds of hazardous flame retardants and 10,000 pounds of lead." What's even more alarming is that many of these dangerous products somehow make it past safety screening, so you're better off buying them elsewhere.

Click on the next page for more products you shouldn't buy from the dollar store including a very popular holiday product.

5. Electronic Accessories

USB cords, device chargers and extension cords from dollar stores are not only poorly made, they've also tested high in chlorine. This indicates that they were made with PVC or vinyl chloride, a cancer causing chemical. Keep yourself safe by purchasing these types of products from electronic stores.

6. Metallic Christmas Garlands

Not wanting to shell out huge amounts of cash every year for Christmas decorations makes sense, but it's not worth your health. Those shiny $1 metallic garlands around the tree are generally made with recycled plastics containing BFRs. These can mix with dust and possibly cause breathing, thyroid and memory problems. Experts recommend opting for decorations made with translucent plastic or paper.

7. String Lights

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Another holiday product that you should buy someplace else. Ingesting the chlorine and bromine present from dollar store string lights can lead to serious health complications. Even when purchasing these lights from a different store, always check the tag to make sure they're RoHS-compliant (Restriction of Hazardous Substances).

9. Wall and Window Decals

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The American Public Health Association has labelled PVC "among the most hazardous of plastic materials" and unfortunately they're also found in wall and window decals from discount retailers. The association has put out a call-to-action to ban PVC products in homes, schools, hospitals and daycares and stores. So before you decorate your home with plastic-based decals make sure PVC isn't listed on the tags, or better yet skip buying them from the dollar store altogether.

Stores like Walmart and Target have responded to consumer demands to pull unsafe products off the shelves, but dollar stores have yet to take action. The Moms Clean Air Force have launched a petition that you can sign to convince discount retailers to phase out products with toxic materials. You can sign it here.

Have you purchased any of these products from the dollar store? Let us know!

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.