Tue, Feb 15, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Many toy lanterns found to be toxic, potentially harmful

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

Officials from the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection hold lanterns at a press conference in Taipei yesterday. The bureau said 10 out of 38 plastic lanterns it inspected failed to pass its product safety tests.

Photo: Lu Chun-wei, Taipei Times

With the Lantern Festival approaching, the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection yesterday said its latest round of product inspections found many toy lanterns contained chemicals or had sharp edges that were potentially harmful to young children.

The bureau recently purchased 38 toy lanterns from department stores, toy stores and retail chains across the country and found that 10, or 26 percent, were substandard.

Five of those toys contained harmful phthalates at amounts exceeding the maximum legal limit of 0.1 percent of total mass.

One toy lantern, manufactured by Yifa Toys in Shantou, Guangdong Province, China, contained plasticizer chemicals at 420 times the maximum allowable limit.

Plasticizers, or phthalate esters, contain environmental hormones that act as endocrine disruptors. The substances can potentially damage the liver and kidneys, cause men to develop female traits and increase the risk of breast cancer in women, the bureau said.

Another toy lantern produced by Huanyou Factory in Shenzhen, also in Guangdong, contained heavy metals that are potentially toxic to children, especially if they put the toys in their mouths or forget to wash their hands after playing with it, the bureau said.

Aside from harmful chemicals, three of the toy lanterns had sharp edges or points that could be dangerous to young children, the bureau said.

It added that five of the lanters contained small parts that could easily fall off or become detached, increasing the risk of choking among children if swallowed.

While some toys passed all product inspections, they did not have proper product labeling nor contain information such as the manufacturer’s name, country of origin and appropriate age limits, the bureau said.

Manufacturers have been ordered to recall the products and retailers to immediately remove the products from shelves, bureau deputy director-general Huang Lai-ho (黃來和) said, adding that businesses that did not comply could be fined between NT$100,000 (US$3,100) and NT$1 million.

The bureau reminded parents who purchase lanterns and other toys for children to look for a sticker that indicates the product has passed safety requirements. Parents should also take note of whether the toy has sharp edges and long ropes or wires that could accidentally strangle a child.

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