My granddaughter received an American Girl doll for our Winter Solstice Present Day celebration (OK, what ya’ll call Christmas). I was a little worried when it arrived because a quick online check showed that American Girl dolls, by Mattel, are not made in the US but are manufactured in China.
And while an article by CBS 11 of Dallas/Fort Worth News, dtd Dec 10, 2007 admits that American Girl dolls are manufactured in China it says that CBS had an American Girl doll (and accessories) tested for lead. They state that “experts say the doll and its toys are perfectly safe.”
I don’t know what “experts” CBS used as they do not say in the article but according to HealthyToys.org, American Girls dolls are not completely safe. They rated as MEDIUM on the safety scale. While it is true the dolls are lead-free, the one American Girl doll they tested came up positive for the chemical Chlorine.
About Chlorine, HealthyToys states the following:
“Detection of chlorine in a toy component indicates the likely use of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or vinyl, a widely used type of plastic that is of concern to the environment and public health during all phases of its life cycle.”
I won’t bore you with all the details about chlorine, PVC and vinyl but I will provide a few highlights. For example, vinyl contains phthalates [pronounced thal-ates] which are a group of industrial chemicals that add flexibility and resilience to many consumer products. Phthalates have been associated with disturbed hormonal processes, birth defects of the genitals, altered levels of reproductive hormones in male babies, an increased risk of breast cancer and asthma, among many other things. In short, PVC is NOT something you want kids playing with if you can help it.
And while the plastic and vinyl industry claim that phthalates and vinyl are “perfectly safe” (Jeeze, where have I heard that one before?)--others, lots of others, disagree. You can check out some additional scary details about vinyl on the EPA website. Eeesh!
So, yes, American Girl dolls probably don’t have high levels of lead but they are made out of vinyl which more than likely contains unhealthy and perhaps dangerous levels of phthalates.
And lastly, American Girls are not made in America, anymore.
Luckily, the doll my granddaughter received was an original version of the Kristin doll which was manufactured by the Pleasant Company in Middleton, Wisconsin in 1991. (Mattel bought out the Pleasant Company in 1998.)
My granddaughter’s other grandmother bought the doll for her on eBay. It came with clothes and accessories whose tags state they were made in Germany. So, at least the clothes are definitely safe.
I’m not really feeling too secure about the whole vinyl issue with this version of the doll but at least I’m not worrying about lead. I am hoping that perhaps the vinyl is stable now or has at least, off-gassed most of the toxins. Who knows? *sigh*
Anyway, if you’re looking for a safe American made doll check out the Stuffington Bear Factory. While they don’t have plastic dolls, they do have lots of very cute stuffed animals and outfits to dress them in. I purchased a green bunny and a couple of outfits. The little handmade clothes are so adorable and the bunny is well made. And most important of all, they are completely safe, made in the USA and my granddaughter loves them.
Stuffington Bear Factory is located in Arizona. It’s web site says they have been in business since 1959.