Legos made before 1963 use cellulose acetate, as of then they use ABS plastic. ABS was chosen because it is more stable and holds colors better than cellulose acetate. The material is also used to make auto parts and building material. It is non-toxic, rust proof and heat resistant. Legos made prior to 1963 are most likely not those things.
There is a type of chemical called phthalates (pronounced THA-lates) that is present in many legos, as well as some other household plastics. There is some concern about these, as in some children products it has been known to cause disruption in the body’s endocrine system. This is the system that controls horomones in the body. As such, it can upset the body’s balance of hormones, and even encourage the growth of some cancers.
There is some debate about whether or not phthlates are really all that dangerous, but nevertheless Congress passed a bill in 2008 that bans certain types of phthalates, and Lego began phasing them out. The newest types of legos are phthalate-free.
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