NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As many families do their back to school shopping, Sen. Charles Schumer warned consumers about products he said are laden with potentially harmful chemicals.

Sen. Schumer said products like backpacks, lunch boxes and binders often contain toxic chemical phthalates that have already been banned from toys.

WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reports

A report from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice showed that about 75% of back to school supplies that they sampled contained the dangerous phthalates, or PVCs.

“We found a Disney princess lunch box 29 times higher than what is considered safe for toys,” Michael Schade with the Center for Health, Environment & Justice said.

Schumer is pushing for Congress to pass the Safe Chemical Act to require manufacturers to prove the safety of the chemicals in their products that are used by children.

Experts at the news conference said the chemical has been linked to asthma, diabetes, ADHD and birth defects.

“Why are children so sick? Though the causes behind chronic diseases can be complex, growing research indicates that toxins act as a significant trigger,” said pediatric neurologist Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein.

“Increasingly, there’s a growing body of scientific evidence that has found that these phthalates that we found in our school supplies are linked to serious health problems that are on the rise in children,” Schade added.

In addition to calling for new legislation, Sen. Schumer said demanded the Office of Management and Budget approve a “list of chemicals of concern,” including phthalates, submitted by the EPA over two years ago.

At a Sunday news conference, safety advocates handed out a guide to PVC-free school products to help parents choose safer products as they continue their back to school shopping.

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