Wed, Apr 18, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Plasticizer levels in more than one-fifth of stationery exceed safety limit: group

By Chen Yi-chia and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

An inspection has found that 22 percent of stationery on the market have levels of plasticizers that exceed safe limits by up to 400 percent, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.

The high levels of plasticizers might affect the health of children over the long term, as they use stationery for several hours each day, the foundation said.

A 2011 inspection conducted by the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection in cooperation with the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee found that 60 percent of erasers on the market had levels of plasticizers that exceeded safe limits, foundation chairman Yu Kai-hsiung (游開雄) said.

An inspection conducted by the foundation in 2015 found that the majority of plastic pads used by students to protect writing surfaces also had levels that exceeded safe limits, Yu said, but added that the scope of that review was smaller.

As younger children are still physically developing, it is worth paying attention to high levels of plasticizers in their stationery, but there is still little public awareness of the issue, he said.

Plasticizers are listed in many nations as a toxic substance, and the Environmental Protection Administration’s Toxic and Chemical Substances Bureau has them listed as class-one and class-two toxic materials, he added.

Class one refers to substances that are not easily broken down, while class two refers to substances that exhibit chronic toxicity.

Over the long term, these substances can affect the reproductive and endocrine systems, leading to the development of tumors and an increased risk of breast cancer in women, Yu said.

Taiwan Children’s Commodities Research and Development Center product testing director Wu Min-yan (吳旻彥) said that the Chinese National Standards stipulate a maximum plasticizer level of 0.1 percent of a product’s volume.

However, some of the stationery tested in the latest inspection had levels as high as 20 percent of their volume, he said.

Foundation product testing director Lin Young-chien (凌永健) said stationery was added to the list of products with stipulated standards in 2012, when it was determined that plastic stationery can have a substantial effect on the health of children.

Many vendors simply ignore the regulations, especially for imported products, he said.

While manufacturers and retailers have a responsibility to consider product quality and safety, consumers must also be conscious about what they are purchasing, Lin said.

The standards for stationery do not legally require that products be tested, Yu said, adding that if a product is found to have failed to meet standards, there is no fine for retailers under the law.

The government should amend laws to require testing of high-risk stationery, he said.

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