An average of three in five types of rubber erasers sold nationwide contain too much plasticizer chemicals, the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) said yesterday.
The commission recently purchased 25 types of erasers sold at on-campus stationary stores and large bookstores in various parts of the country to assess product labeling and plasticizer content.
Inspectors found that 15 types of erasers tested positive for as many as six types of plasticizer chemicals at amounts exceeding the maximum legal limit of 0.1 percent of total mass.
Plasticizers, or phthalates, contain environmental hormones that act as endocrine disruptors. The substances can potentially damage the liver and kidneys, cause men to develop female reproductive organ traits and increase the risk of breast cancer in women, the commission said.
The chemicals could enter the body if children do not wash their hands after using the erasers and touch their eyes, nose or mouth, commission section chief Wu Cheng-hsueh (吳政學) said.
Four types of erasers contained plasticizers at 300 times the maximum legal limit. One type of Ubilin brand eraser used for 2B pencils had plasticizer chemicals accounting for 31.4 percent of the total mass, Wu said, while ZEH-05PT, a brand sold at a stationary store at an elementary school in Taipei, contained 30.2 percent.
As the two types of erasers did not have proper labeling, it was unclear where the products were manufactured.
Wu said that the 15 substandard erasers had been ordered off the shelves and their manufacturers ordered to make improvements or face fines of between NT$60,000 (US$2,000) and NT$1.5 million.
The commission said 17 types of erasers did not have proper product labeling, such as the manufacturer’s name and address, country of origin and importer information.
Some erasers did not even have a product name, Wu said.
The commission said parents were advised to teach their children to wash their hands after using erasers to avoid accidentally consuming harmful chemicals. When shopping for stationary, it is also important to check whether product label information is complete, the commission said.