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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Study Finds Toxic Chemicals In Dollar Store Products

Consumers filed a petition calling for toxic products to be removed from Dollar Store shelves.

Consumer advocates want to knock toxic products off of dollar-store shelves.

As part of a national campaign, public health organizations, environmental justice groups and families delivered a petition today to the 99 Cents Only headquarters. It calls for dollar stores to stop selling products that contain toxic chemicals.

A Campaign for Healthier Solutions published a report that found chemicals of concern in products sold in the four largest dollar store chains: Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and 99 Cents Only. 

According to the report, rates of chronic disease and health conditions due to chemical exposure have increased across America over the last few decades, especially among children. 

Helga Garza from Los Jardines Institute traveled from Albuquerque, New Mexico to help deliver the petition after finding out that products her grandchildren were using were contaminated with toxic chemicals. 

“They know that they’re selling toxic chemicals in our communities and we want a policy change,” Garza said. 

Dollar stores are usually located in smaller rural towns or urban neighborhoods and are sometimes the only place to buy household items, including food. 

They often serve either communities of color or low-income communities that have reduced access to quality medical care, healthy food and public services.

The study found that an alarming 81 percent of products tested contained at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern. 49 percent of the products tested contained two or more hazardous chemicals above levels of concern. 

Chemicals used in everyday household products, such as cleaning products, often can be released into homes, schools, workplaces and vehicles, exposing people in many ways.  

Children are the greatest at risk to toxic exposure because they breathe, drink and eat more per pound of body weight than adults, according to the study. Their bodies cannot process many toxic chemicals in the same way that adult bodies do as they are developing quickly. 

Mark Lopez with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice expressed his concern over the findings. 

“There’s poison in our air. There’s poison in our water. There’s poison in our soil. We don’t need poison in our products,” Lopez said. 

The petition was signed by 150,000 consumers and was accepted by 99 Cents Only Marketing Director Erin Estelle. 

She let groups today know that she would talk to corporate in hopes of establishing a meeting in regards to eliminating toxic chemicals found in dollar store products. 

In a statement, the company said, “99 Cents Only Stores is committed to providing safe, quality products to its customers, including national brands, that meet or exceed applicable federal and state requirements." 

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