The chemicals are called phthalates are in everything from binders to boots even backpacks.
Research has shown phthalates can be harmful to humans.
The Oregon Environmental Council is pushing for a law that requires manufacturers to list PVC as an ingredient in their products.
And currently manufacturers don't even have to list the chemicals as an ingredient in the product.
They are found in PVC plastic or vinyl, that soft flexible plastic that has a strong chemical smell.
“This chemical when it’s inhaled or ingested can lead to birth defects and asthma and allergies and all sorts of other disorders,” explained Jen Coleman, outreach director for Oregon Environmental Council.
An environmental watch-dog group recently tested 20 popular children's school supplies and found 80 percent of them contained the toxic chemicals.
And 75 percent contained levels above the current legal limit for children's toys.
“Toys have limits on the amount of phthalates they can have in them, but because these are back to school products they’re not considered toys … there are no limits on phthalates in these products,” said Coleman.
Many stores do offer a wide variety of PVC-free alternatives.
But here are some clues that the chemicals are in a product: The plastic is shiny and flexible, it has the recycling number three on it, and it has a strong chemical plastic smell.