KYIV, Ukraine—During the holiday season, parents should be more careful when selecting toys for their children, according to a recent investigation.
Last week a joint research project announced results showing 29 percent of tested toys contained toxic elements.
The research was conducted by ecological organizations in six Eastern European and Asian countries, including Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The test subjects were selected at random from toys available in those countries. Most of the toys originated from China.
A total of 569 toys were tested for six heavy metals: antimony, mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and chrome. Researchers found toxic metals in 164 toys, or 29 percent.
The results showed that lead was the most common toxin, discovered in 18 percent of the tested toys. Thirteen percent of toys contained antimony, while eight percent contained arsenic and three percent contained mercury.
Nearly 80 percent of the selected toys originated from China. The other 20 percent of toys that contained toxic elements were found to be manufactured in Germany, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic.
“The results let us make the conclusion that only 71 percent of toys are clean,” ecologist Olga Tsygulyova, who took part in the research, told The Epoch Times.
Tsygulyova says that toxic toys are harmful not only when children place them in their mouths or swallow them, but also when children touch them, as the surfaces of toys may contain toxic particles.
Parents should be attentive while choosing toys, and avoid buying products with very bright colors or strong odors, advises Tsygulyova.
Tsygulyova also points out that unsafe toys are harmful not only to children’s health, but also to the environment when they are thrown out as waste. In this case toys can cause environmental damage by releasing toxic metals that gradually penetrate into soil and groundwater. This problem is especially serious in countries without developed waste sorting and recycling systems, such as Ukraine.
Ecologists advise parents to check if toys have quality marks before purchasing. Marks to look for include the ISO 9000 quality assurance system, the ISO 14000 environmental management system, or the “CE” marking for products made in the EU. Other quality assurance marks may vary from country to country.
Parents may also ask retailers to show accompanying documents for toys, such as quality certificates. Under the law in many countries, consumers have the right to request information about products.
Retailers are also required to give certain quality guarantees. Oleksiy Shumilo, director of Ukrainian ecological organization EcoRight-Kharkiv, says that consumers contribute to the manufacture of poor products when they buy toys at unregulated places.
“For example, when we come out of a metro station and see somebody selling toys and we don’t have time to go to a shop… If we buy in such places, without checking, then we are being irresponsible to our children,” he said.
However, according to Zoryana Mischuk, director of Ukrainian ecological organization MAMA-86, low quality toys were found even in specialized stores.
“You can find unsafe toys in large trading networks as well. Be careful,” warned Mishchuk.
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