High levels of pollutants in children's toys

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High levels of pollutants in children's toys: consumer advocates are demanding stricter guidelines for toys.

The pollution of numerous children's toys is too high and the federal government has threatened to go it alone when setting limit values ​​if the EU does not adopt stricter guidelines on toy safety.

"If Europe does not act by 2013, we have to act alone," said Federal Consumer Minister Ilse Aigner (CSU) to the Berlin "Tagesspiegel". The Federal Ministry of Economics also said that the federal government would single-handedly set stricter national limits if necessary, if the necessary improvements were not achieved promptly at EU level. The EU is currently advising on a reform of the EU toy directive, but the new limit values ​​planned for 2013 for the exposure of toys to heavy metals are not sufficient, it said from the ranks of the federal government. Germany is campaigning for significantly stricter limit values ​​than previously provided for in the directive.

Environmental scientist: limit values ​​for carcinogenic hydrocarbons far too high
The well-known environmental scientist and head of the Institute for Environmental Chemistry at Leuphana University, Klaus Kümmerer, also comes to the conclusion that children's toys in Germany are far too heavily contaminated with dangerous pollutants and therefore demands a stricter directive for toys. For example, according to Kümmerer, the limits for carcinogenic hydrocarbons and heavy metals are set too high in the EU directive on the safety requirements for toys. "The permissible amounts of both polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals are far above the acceptable level," criticized the expert. Kümmerer explained that the sometimes massive PAH loads pose considerable health risks, which correspond to the consumption of 40 cigarettes. The carcinogenic hydrocarbons often only show their effects after decades, the environmental scientist continues. Andreas Hensel, President of the Federal Institute for Risk Research (BfR), does not agree with the previous guidelines on toy safety and advocated a total ban on cadmium, lead and arsenic in toys. Because lead damages children's brain development and cadmium leads to long-term damage, so that the contact is associated with considerable health risks. "The children do not become acutely ill, but they may develop kidney cancer at 50," said the President of the BfR.

Therefore, consumers should be particularly careful when buying children's toys, according to the unanimous recommendation of the experts. Striking or smelly toys should not be bought, emphasized Andreas Hensel. With "very colorful" toys, consumers should also be careful and best to ask about the materials used. The Stiftung Warentest has also advised children to do without painted (wooden) toys altogether and to only use dolls made of fabric. Toys that carry an organic seal can be viewed as unproblematic and recommended. However, these are usually considerably more expensive and, as an alternative, a trip to nature can be worthwhile. With the help of numerous handicraft instructions, toys suitable for toddlers can be created and manufactured from acorns, sticks, leaves and chestnuts. (fp)

Also read:
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Dangerous pollutants in children's toys

Photo credit: CFalk / pixelio.de

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