Press Release

March Badness: finds toxic chemicals in The Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati fan products

Is your university gear in the running for national MTP (Most Toxic Product) status?

Recent product testing has uncovered sports fan gear laced with toxic chemicals, including items with team logos from The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati.

Conducted by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a part of the initiative, the project tested for the presence of harmful chemicals in 65 university-themed products from 19 universities.

Products tested included wallets, key chains, seat cushions, and sports jerseys purchased at major retailers including Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart.

Among the findings from Ecology Center and

  • Two out of three university gear products from Ohio were found to contain chemicals of concern.
  • An Ohio State University Piggy Bank and a University of Cincinnati Growth Chart contained chlorine levels above 3,500ppm, suggesting the use of PVC (polyvinyl chloride or “vinyl”) or chlorinated flame retardants. Hazardous chemicals are used and released in PVC, and  chlorinated flame retardants have been associated with thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, and behavioral changes.
  •  The University of Cincinnati Growth Chart also tested positive for the presence of phthalates. Phthalates, used to soften PVC plastics, have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births, and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems.
  • Nearly three quarters (7  in 10) of products tested contain chemicals that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity, and cancer.
  • The products routinely contained lead and phthalates at levels exceeding standards for children’s products set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  •  Among the chemicals detected are lead, arsenic, chromium, phthalates, and toxic flame retardants.

“What we find most disturbing about the test results from our university gear in Ohio is that these items were designed and marketed specifically for children,” said Melanie Houston, Director of Environmental Health at the Ohio Environmental Council, “Its high time for the top retailers in America to ensure that the products they sell are free from toxic chemicals, especially those products designed for children.”

“In college towns across America March Madness brings with it a tremendous amount of excitement,” said Rebecca Meuninck, Environmental Health Campaign Director for the Ecology Center and “Many of the Universities represented in our study pride themselves on their efforts to green their campuses, but there’s a disconnect when University-themed products contain harmful chemicals linked to diseases like certain cancers, thyroid disruption, infertility and learning disabilities.”

“Most of the products tested in this study were purchased from the nation’s top ten retailers,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director for the Ecology Center and “We are joining our partners in the Mind the Store Campaign to call on these retailers to adopt company level chemicals policies and get toxic products off of their store shelves.” and the Ohio Environmental Council are recommending common sense precautions to limit exposure to toxic substances, especially  not allowing children to put these items in their mouths and washing your hands after handling these products.

Full study results and detailed information about what consumers can do is available at