#AskTamara: Are There Toxic Chemicals In My Hitachi “Magic Wand” Personal Massager / Vibrator?

#AskTamara

Question: Are there toxic chemicals in my Hitachi “Magic Wand” personal massager / vibrator?

Answer: Well, as a matter of fact, now that you ask, there were concerning levels of ANTIMONY (Sb) in the Magic Wand personal massager by Hitachi that I recently tested

Please note: I only tested ONE example of this product and this one was purchased new from a store approximately 10 years ago (c. 2008). Newer wands from this company, when tested with an XRF instrument, may not have the same high levels of this toxicant – or contain any, for that matter; on the other hand, it’s also possible that older ones (apparently these have been popular for more than 30 years now!) might test positive for other heavy metals, which the one I tested did not test positive for. So, although in my experience, random samples of mass-manufactured items like this from a major manufacturer can often constitute a meaningful snapshot of production at that time, take this for what it is at this time — just a single, non-current sample of this item!]

The full XRF test results for the massager pictured here are below the image, however please continue reading to the end of this post for more information and considerations!

White Electrical Cord:

  • ND for Pb, As, Hg & Cd
  • Barium (Ba): 153 +/- 50 ppm
  • Antimony (Sb): 2,494 +/- 49 ppm
  • Bromine (Br): 365 +/- 14 ppm
  • Zinc (Zn): 865 +/- 44 ppm
  • Copper (Cu): 518 +/- 45 ppm
  • Iron (Fe): 160 +/- 59 ppm
  • Titanium (Ti): 5,549 +/- 1,392 ppm

The White Hard Plastic Body of the Wand:

  • ND for Pb, Hg & Cd
  • Arsenic (As): 72 +/- 39 ppm
  • Antimony (Sb): 31,700 +/- 2,100 ppm
  • Bromine (Br): 138,900 +/- 8,900 ppm
  • Zinc (Zn): 142 +/- 42 ppm
  • Vanadium (V): 1,246 +/- 518 ppm
  • Titanium (Ti): 5,224 +/- 1,162

A second longer test of this component confirmed these levels:

  • Arsenic (As): 72 +/- 27 ppm
  • Antimony (Sb): 33,900 +/- 1,600 ppm

Silver Colored Collar/Band:

  • ND for Pb, As, Hg & Cd
  • Chromium (Cr): 17,600 +/- 900 ppm
  • Bromine (Br): 281 +/- 56 ppm
  • Gold (Au): 1,039 +/- 384 ppm
  • Copper (Cu): 688,100 +/- 2,500 ppm
  • Nickel (Ni): 290,300 +/- 2,300 ppm

“Rubber” Massage Ball End:

  • ND for Pb, As, Hg & Cd
  • Barium (Ba): 252 +/- 48 ppm
  • Tin (Sn): 480 +/- 19 ppm
  • Zinc (Zn): 545 +/- 35 ppm
  • Iron (Fe): 463 +/- 70 ppm
  • Titanium (Ti): 6,058 +/- 1,411 ppm

Why is Antimony (Sb) a problem?

While I cannot say that antimony in sex toys will necessarily harm you, antimony has been documented to be potentially carcinogenic to humans (and at least capable of poisoning humans leading to other health impacts – similar to arsenic poisoning, if not causing cancer specifically.)

As a result, I think it is prudent to advocate that antimony not be allowed in sex toys under the “first do no harm” principle — especially and specifically for professions (and products) that are assumed to be providing a health benefit.

Some studies and link about antimony:

  1. Wikipedia: “antimony trioxide is potentially carcinogenic to humans” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimony
  2. …antimony trioxide and antimony trisulfide have been seen to cause lung tumours in rats. Antimony trioxide is classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B) by the International Agency for Research on Cancerhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037053/
  3. “Antimony poisoning, harmful effects upon body tissues and functions of ingesting or inhaling certain compounds of antimony. Such poisoning resembles arsenic poisoning.” https://www.britannica.com/science/antimony-poisoning
  4. From 2011: “Antimony (Sb) is a toxic trace element widely distributed in the lithosphere and mainly associated with arsenic. Sb compounds are considered to be pollutants of high interest, however, the biogeochemical behaviour of Sb is still largely unknown, especially compared to other well-known toxic elements.”  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0375674210001081

Who else knows about/has shared any concern for toxic chemicals in sex toys?

In writing this post I did a little research regarding toxicity concerns in sex toys and discovered several other posts have been written on the subject [some of these even actually discuss the presence of ANTIMONY in sex toys – as discussed in a 2006 study done in Denmark]. However, I could not find a study that discussed any concerns (or lack of concerns) for the potential migration of antimony during the normal and intended use of these products (studying migration would note if the antimony is absorbed by – or even available to – the human body during the course of normal use.)

Check out the following articles and links about concerns for toxicity in sex toys:

  1. From 2006, yet another reason to love Denmark (progressive thinking and science): https://www2.mst.dk/udgiv/publications/2006/87-7052-227-8/pdf/87-7052-228-6.pdf
  2. From 2017: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4381166/Why-sex-toys-exposing-people-harmful-chemicals.html
  3. From 2016: http://mysecretsoiree.com/blog/2016/02/25/when-sex-toys-go-wrong-a-tale-of-toxic-sex-toys/
  4. From 2015: http://erikalynae.com/2015/01/31/toxic-sex-toys/
  5. From 2008: https://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2008/03/phthalates-the-toxic-chemicals-that-might-be-in-your-sex-toy-by-lynnea-dally
  6. Here’s a piece from 2017 that is interesting: https://www.inverse.com/article/30641-sex-toys-testing-regulations
  7. Here’s yet another good one… this is a very interesting rabbit hole to go down (in terms of all of the articles to read!) https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/bj5bqv/how-to-tell-if-your-sex-toy-is-toxic
  8. Here’s a whole site about toxicity in sex toys: http://dangerouslilly.com/toxictoys/

So it looks like manufacturers and regulatory agencies have known about these concerns for at least 12 years (at least in Denmark), yet I don’t know that anything is being done about it in the United States.

The main problem (which is mentioned in several of the articles linked above) is that these toys are not regulated strictly – like food, medicine or medical devices might be – but instead fall under the loophole of being a “novelty product” which (in the United States) makes them subject to pretty much no regulatory standards when it comes to toxicity concerns and other potential related health complications that might arise from using one of these items.

As always, thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Tamara Rubin
#LeadSafeMama


To see the full XRF test results for the Hitachi Magic Wand pictured here, please scroll down.

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