The Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI) is mulling strict restrictions on the amount of plasticizer chemicals contained in rubber erasers.
Some erasers currently sold on the market were reported to contain plasticizer chemicals, which at high concentrations could pose a health threat to children who chew the erasers or touch their eyes, nose or mouth after using them.
Once the harmful substances make their way into the human system, they can cause males to develop female characteristics such as breasts and can increase the risk of breast cancer in women. The chemicals are a type of environmental hormone that acts as an endocrine disrupter and can also cause damage to the liver and kidneys.
Chen Hung-i (陳宏亦), a section chief at the bureau, said it would reference the Chinese National Standards guidelines for plastic toys and shoes to draft standards for rubber erasers. The bureau will set the maximum amount of plasticizer chemicals allowed in erasers at 0.1 percent of mass, which basically means that the harmful chemicals are not allowed to be added to the erasers, he said.
After the standards are set, the bureau plans to conduct product safety tests on erasers as part of mandatory inspections so that products that do not pass the test must be recalled and manufacturers of the sub-standard erasers ordered to make improvements or face heavy fines.
The bureau urged parents to teach children not to chew erasers, to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth after using erasers.