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EVA Foam Mat

  • InShopping Guides, Toxic Plastic, Toys & Misc

    How to Choose PVC-free Pools, Floaties, Toys and Life Jackets

    We never dreamed how difficult it would be to find PVC-free baby/kid pools, floaties, life jackets and toys.  After 5 years of searching, you'd think we would have quite a long list of options – but that's not the case.  Summer's here, so have a look ahead at our newly updated list along with tips for avoiding pool toys that are generally made from PVC.

    Products Typically Made with PVC

    Inflatable Pools, Floaties and Toys

    We found that almost all inflatable toys are made from PVC (usually listed as Vinyl).  In fact, we didn't find a single one made from an alternative material, as there still doesn't seem to be a suitable substitute after five years of searching.

    We realize that it's almost impossible to avoid them, so if you can't find an alternative product to meet your needs, we suggest you consider buying them used.  This gives them a chance to off-gas before using it with your children, and also helps reduce the use of PVC (which is regarded as the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics).

    Keep in mind that buying used doesn't help with phthalates, lead and other toxins common to PVC. We don't have the man (or woman!) power to research every single inflatable pool toy to find out which are phthalate-free, so you may want to contact the manufacturer before buying used items. Please note that this category includes the spring style floats as seen here, here, here and here.  We confirmed with several manufacturers that the inflatable ring inside the nylon casing is made of PVC.

    Dense Foam Life Vests and Mats

    Most dense foam kickboards, life vests, and mats are made from closed-cell PVC foam and are covered in a layer of waterproof vinyl.  Even the floaties made from non-PVC foam were mostly covered with a layer of PVC on the outside. You can identify them by their slightly rubbery exterior that's sometimes shiny.  You can see an example of a PVC life vest here.

    Life Vests with Neoprene or Nylon Covering

    We were surprised to learn that most of our good old standby life vests were made with a PVC foam core.  Their neoprene and nylon covering hides the interior, so be sure to contact the manufacturer to confirm what type of foam is used for buoyancy.

    PVC-free Foam Core Life Jackets

    UPDATE: We're so happy to report that we've been able to locate a handful of completely PVC-free life vests since we first researched this subject. These life jackets are made primarily with Gaia foam, NBR (nitrile butadiene rubber) foam or polyethylene foam.

    Mustang Survival
    MTI Adventurewear
    NRS Ninja
    Astral GreenJacket
    LandShark Dog Life Jacket
    Canine Friendly Dog Life Jacket


    PVC-free Pools, Floaties, Noodles and Mats

    Polyethylene and EVA Foam Floaties, Noodles and Mats

    Noodle style pool toys are usually made from polyethylene foam, which is PVC-free.  This material is often used in packaging and as insulation as well.  It can be identified by its more lightweight feel and porous appearance as compared to the dense, heavy PVC foam.  Also, it typically doesn't have an exterior covering like PVC foam does. We found these floaties, mats, and toys made from non-toxic EVA or polyethylene foam.



    Hard-sided Polyethylene Kid Pools

    Thank goodness there are still old-fashioned molded pool made with PVC-free polyethylene around!  They are getting harder to find, but we've seen them at Lowes here and here, at Academy Sports here.  There's a great hard-sided pool made by Little Tikes, the Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool here, and also the Step2 Play & Shade Pool pictured below.

    Be sure to look for recycling codes #2, #4 and #5 because some hard-sided pools like this one are made with PVC.

    What PVC-free pool toys have you found in your own research?

    *NOTE: Edited to remove the H2OGO! My First Frame Pool after receiving conflicting info on ingredients (sounds like there may be PVC in the lining after all too!).


    Finding non-toxic pool toys

  • InNon-toxic Home

    Do All EVA Foam Products Contain Toxic Formamide?

    Formamide Free EVA Foam

    I'm sure you've heard about the EU's recent ban of EVA foam playmats related to the presence of formamide, a known carcinogenic chemical.  From what we can tell, EVA foam – not standard EVA sheet material – is the source of concern because formamide is sometimes used to make the foam more pliable.

    Please note that I said sometimes.  It's possible to locate formamide-free EVA foam, although many manufacturers don't routinely check (or test) for it yet.  We recently investigated a new product to stock in our store and the manufacturer was able to confirm with their factory that a small amount of formamide was present in their products.  We were impressed with their decision to locate a new EVA foam source to ensure the safest product possible.

    There is still some grey area surrounding this issue, because the EU hasn't determined exactly what levels are considered safe in children's products. It was noted though, that new mats have the highest risk and formamide residue decreases over time, so older products may contain little or no formamide.

    EVA is recommended by CHEJ as a PVC-free substitute, as well as by Healthcare without Harm for use in neonatal intensive care units in drug delivery devices.  The great thing about EVA is that it doesn't require the addition of plasticizers/softeners (like phthalates), stabilizers (like lead), or chlorine (which leads to the generation of dioxin, a highly persistent carcinogen).

    Just be careful to research EVA foam products before buying and contact manufacturers to confirm that their products are formamide-free.