Tue, Jul 24, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Glow sticks can be toxic menace: consumer agency

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The results of an examination of glow sticks indicates that 58 percent of the popular gimmicks contain excessive amounts of harmful chemical plasticizers.

Photo: CNA

The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday said a survey conducted with the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI) showed that 58.3 percent of glow sticks sampled for safety inspections contained exceedingly high amounts of plasticizers and were asked to be removed from shelves.

Foundation chairperson Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said adults and children often hold glow sticks at concerts or festivals, but several accidents have occurred in which the liquid chemical substance inside the glow sticks had splattered peoples’ eyes. Most of these accidents were the result of improper use of the glow sticks — mainly by over bending or twisting the sticks, Su said.

The foundation and the bureau conducted safety inspections on 24 glow stick samples — 20 chemoluminescent glow sticks and four electric glow sticks — that were purchased in April.

Su said 58.3 percent of glow stick samples (14 items) were found to contain exceedingly high amounts of plasticizers, 50 percent (12 items) were found without the product safety mark, 58.3 percent (14 items) were found with Chinese-character labels that fell below the required standards.

Based on Chinese National Standard 4797 for the regulation of toys, the eight permissible plasticizers, including six Phthalate Esters (PAE), may not exceed 0.1 percent of an item’s weight.

However, the survey found that in one of the chemoluminescent glow sticks, the plasticizer di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) made up to about 44.85 percent of its weight, or 448.5 times the standard limit.

BSMI Deputy Director-General Chuang Su-chin (莊素琴) said the bureau had demanded that all sub-standard glow sticks be removed from store shelves, adding that manufacturers and importers would be fined between NT$100,000 (US$3,327) and NT$2 million if improvements are not made.

Moreover, manufacturers or importers of glow sticks who fail to display a product safety mark may face a fine of between NT$100,000 and NT$1 million if no improvements are made, Chuang said, adding that the bureau had also asked companies to improve labels that displayed insufficient information, such as the company name or origin.

“PAEs are endocrine disrupting chemicals and may cause imbalances in a child’s hormonal system, the feminization of men and an increased rate of breast cancer for women,” BSMI senior specialist Lai Chun-chieh (賴俊杰) said.

In addition, Lai said three sampled items were found to be physically unsafe for small children, meaning that they contained small objects that are easily detachable and may be accidentally swallowed.

Chuang urged consumers to read the labels and product safety remarks on glow stick packaging before purchasing them, advised purchasers to refrain from breaking the sticks or otherwise exposing the liquid chemical substances inside and said they should wash their hands thoroughly after using glow sticks.

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