Toys contain an extremely toxic chemical
In its latest study released in New Delhi on January 15, 2010, CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory
has found high levels of phthalates, a chemical used to soften plastic, in all samples of toys it tested.
Over 45 per cent of the samples exceeded the internationally accepted safe limit for phthalates.
Shockingly, there are no regulations to control or monitor the use of these toxins in India. Says Chandra Bhushan, associate director, CSE: “What India has
is a set of voluntary standards covering safety aspects of toys. The government
has banned the import of toys not meeting these standards, but what will happen when this ban ends on January 23 this year?”
The CSE lab tested 24 toy samples – all randomly bought from markets and
toyshops in Delhi -- for the presence of phthalates. Fifteen were soft toys and nine hard toys. The samples were found to have been manufactured in four
countries: India, China, Taiwan and Thailand. The tests showed: All samples contained one or more phthalates —
DEHP, DINP, DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and BBP (benzyl butyl phthalate), all harmful.
chemicals used in Toys
Phthalates are organic chemicals commonly used as plasticizers to make plastic
supple. They are responsible for plastic products being cheap, easy to clean
and toxic. Phthalates can damage the male reproductive system, impair the lungs and affect
the duration of pregnancy. Laboratory tests on mammals indicate
phthalates can trigger asthma and allergies, and lead to poor semen quality, genital defects,
premature breast development and skeletal defects. Children under three years
are more likely to be exposed to phthalates because they tend to chew and suck
on plastic toys – and since their metabolic, endocrine and reproductive systems
are immature, they are more vulnerable as well.Phthalates are produced from
petrochemicals. They look like clear vegetable oil and are odourless. Till
recently, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) dominated the use of plasticizers in toys. After scientific studies showed DEHP as toxic,
di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) has become the most commonly used plasticizer. Butstudies show that DINP is also harmful.
The recall of Mattel toys made in China, because of their lead component, should
ring several alarm bells in India. But no one is checking Chinese toys coming
into India. They come in unregulated, they are sold unchecked and if they are
killing children, no one is aware. Toy Association of India president Paresh Chawla says
Chinese toys account for 50 per cent of the Rs 2,500-crore toy retail market.
And almost 80 per cent of the Chinese toys are sold untested. “There is no authority to monitor the quality of toys
entering the Indian market,” said Ashok Jain of All India Toy Manufacturers Association. An official
of Bureau of Indian Standards said, “Unlike cement and other ISI marked products, toys do not come under our preview.”
Most Indians were not even aware these toys could be dangerous till they heard
Mattel, a world leader in toys, had twice recalled major consignments of
Chinese- made toys because of safety concerns. Chinese toys are
cheaper than their Indian rivals and, according to some, prettier. The gloss
sets them apart on the shelves. And that’s at the core of the latest round of
problems for Chinese toy makers: they use lead to give their toys that winning
shine. Mattel recalled 9 million Chinese-made toys saying the paint used on these had
lead beyond the permissible limit. Also, some varieties had small magnets which
could come loose and be swallowed by children. Most of the Chinese toys sold in India are unbranded. The packs do not even
show the MRP or the date of import or the name of the importer, all three required under import rules.
| Toxic toys
Environment California Research and Policy Center released a report, which found that products designed for babies and young children
contain chemicals that have been linked to adverse health effects, including early onset puberty, impaired learning development and immune system, reproductive defects, and cancer. The study involved the testing of soft plastic
teethers, bath accessories, and other children toys for phthalates, and changing pads, mattresses, and other sleep
accessories for toxic flame retardants. These chemicals were found in most of the baby products tested. Unfortunately, since manufacturers do not have
to label their products as containing phthalates or toxic flame retardants, parents have no way of knowing whether or not a product poses a hidden hazard.
An NGO Report
: Dolls and toy guns may be a child's best friends but these
harmless-looking toys could in the longer run damage a child's IQ
(intelligence quotient), cause learning disability and even harm its liver and kidneys. A new study by an NGO has found that unbranded toys made with soft plastic
called Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) contain high levels of toxic metals like lead and cadmium. Given that these are sold in every nook and cranny of the country, the problem highlighted by Toxics Link is bound to worry many parents.
“This should ring the alarm bells for all because the Indian market for this kind of toys is worth a whopping $1.5 billion (nearly Rs 700
crore) and growing. This means that millions of children play with these toys every day,” said Ravi
Agarwal, Director, Toxics Link, which conducted the study.
The NGO collected 111 toys from Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and tested them at a government-accredited lab in Delhi.
They found that all toys made of PVC contained lead and cadmium. The level in a large percentage of the samples was found to be far higher than the US regulatory standard of 200 ppm of lead.
“Delhi and Mumbai together make around 95 per cent of all the toys produced and sold in India. Being cheaper than branded
toys, they find more takers,” said Dr Abhay Kumar, Senior Programme Officer of the NGO.
Toy manufacturers dismissed the findings as baseless. “There has never been a single medical case that proves beyond doubt
that toys made of PVC harm children,” RK Varma, president of Toy Manufacturers Association of India, said. “In India, we are yet to have
any regulation on the use of such toxins in the manufacturing of toys. Besides, the Bureau of Indian Standards
(BIS) does not have a standard for such toys. For manufacturers, it only has some rules which are voluntary rather than compulsory.”
Agarwal said. Responding to that, BIS spokesman HL Kaul told that it was not up to the BIS to enforce standards. “For such toy
manufacturers, we have certain safety codes. Enforcing that is beyond our power,” he said.
A study recently published in the Journal of Cancer Research shows that precancerous
lesions and genetic changes occur as a result of exposure to low concentrations of bisphenol-A which is commonly found in most baby bottles
in amounts currently found in human blood and fetuses. The prostate gland, which develops
in human males when they are fetuses, is extremely sensitive to natural estrogen. As a result, scientists have long
theorized that prostate cancer could be increasing in men because of their exposure to estrogen-like chemicals in the womb, such as
When the Danish government learned about toxic chemicals leaking from certain
baby toys, it moved to get polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic out of teething rings, rubber ducks, and other toys kids can chew on. The Netherlands, Germany,
and Austria followed suit, and the Spanish government even asked the European
Union to ban PVC from such children's items. But last week the European Commission decided not to enact a temporary ban, may be the economic pressure
In laboratory tests done by independent American and European laboratories, the main phthalates used in toys were found
to damage the liver, kidneys, and reproductive system when ingested by animals.
Based on the findings of the Danish and Dutch governments and others, the EC
Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment issued an
opinion this year that soft PVC toys leak phthalates up to 10 times in excess of the limits set by the EC Scientific Committee for Food.
Toy makers and PVC suppliers say there's not enough scientific evidence that the
toys are harming children, but governments are taking precautions anyway. To
date, Belgium, Italy, the Philippines, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, and Spain have have either proposed bans for PVC toys, urged
toy manufacturers to stop manufacturing them, or recommended that retailers withdraw them from stores.