Thu, Feb 21, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Toy lantern safety much improved this year: bureau

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

A doll-shaped lantern containing plasticizers is displayed by the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection.

Photo: CNA

The Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI) yesterday reported a decrease in the number of potentially harmful toy lanterns found during this year’s round of inspections, with only one out of 20 samples found to contain toxins.

With the annual Lantern Festival just around the corner, the bureau carried out its yearly inspection of toy lanterns that are widely available during the festival season.

Of samples purchased from local stores, only one lantern sample was found to contain plasticizers and was therefore potentially harmful to health, bureau officials told a press conference yesterday.

The lantern contained 8.663 percent plasticizers, meaning it exceed the legal limit of 0.1 percent by 86 times, the officials said, adding that the toy was manufactured in China’s Guangdong Province and was imported to, and sold in, Changhua County.

“Compared with inspections carried out over the past five years, which almost always resulted in a double-digit number of samples found to be in violation of regulations, this year we saw a substantial drop in the amount of substandard items,” bureau Deputy Director-General Julie Chuang (莊素琴) said.

When asked why the bureau bought only 20 lanterns for inspection this year while there were 40 examined last year, 38 in 2011 and 48 in 2010, senior technical specialist Lai June-chieh (賴俊杰) said that “this year’s inspection focused on toy lanterns that were purchased by government institutions to be given as free gifts to the public.”

Lai added that the bureau did not buy toy lanterns from mass retailers this year, but section chief Rao Yu-chen (饒玉珍) said that since toy lanterns are seasonal products made by very few firms, the manufacturers of the lanterns they inspected are also the source of products that retail to the public.

Nine out of the 20 products purchased for inspection were made by Shantou Chang Da Toys Co in China’s Guangdong Province, including the one found to contain contaminants.

Phthalates, or plasticizers, are considered to be a risk to human health and can cause hormonal imbalances by disrupting the body’s endocrine system.

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