Umbra offered up a number of clever gift ideas for kids in her latest column, focusing particularly on experiences rather than things. But if you still want to do some thing-giving for those wee ones, you might first want to check out “What’s Toxic In Toyland,” an article by Margot Roosevelt in Time.

San Francisco has just banned some plastic toys aimed at kids under three. The prime targets — bisphenol A and phthalates — have been found in everything from rubber duckies to teething rings to bathtime books, as we noted in Daily Grist last month. “Sucking on some of these teethers and toys is like sucking on a toxic lollipop,” Rachel Gibson of Environment California told Time. Bisphenol A and phthalates can muck with the hormones that regulate masculinity and femininity, and animal studies have linked them to prostate and breast cancers, abnormal genitals, early puberty onset, and obesity. Yikes. Some states are considering laws similar to San Francisco’s, and the European Union already bans some questionable chemicals from toys.

As Time reports, “The San Francisco Chronicle recently had 16 toys tested in a private lab. One rubber ducky contained the phthalate DEHP at 13 times San Francisco’s allowed level. A teether contained another phthalate at five times the limit. Meanwhile, a rattle, two waterproof books and a doll contained BPA, which is prohibited by the city at any level.”

What to buy instead? I’m a big fan of Under the Nile’s organic cotton fruit and veggie toys. My niece loved the squishy mock carrot, and the boss’s sprog reportedly took quite a fancy to the peas. And what better way to indoctrinate future CSA subscribers?

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