Slime Toys Could Pose Health Hazard, Consumer Group Warns

July 17, 2018 Last Updated: July 17, 2018

Certain slime toys have been found to contain the chemical boron at levels potentially hazardous to human health, warns the consumer watchdog Which?, an affiliate of the British Consumers’ Association.

The organization tested 11 children’s slimes and found that eight of them tested positive for boron in excess of European Union safety limits of 300mg/kg. All eight were readily commercially available for purchase, according to the consumer group.

Some boron compounds in excess of established limits have been linked to a range of health risks, according to the EU’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS). One of these–boric acid–can even be lethal if ingested orally, according to the SCCS Opinion on boron compounds, in a dose of 2–3 g of boric acid for infants and 15–30 g for adults.

Boron is found naturally in the environment, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry, and has a wide range of uses, including food, medicine, cosmetics, and toys. Medical scientists are exploring the application of certain boron compounds as a possible treatment for brain tumors. On average, we ingest about 2 mg of boron each day from our food, and over the course of our lives, we take in an estimated 60 grams.

The main dietary sources of boron are plant foods, and foods rich in boron include fruits, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, and legumes, as well as wine, cider, and beer, according to the SCCS.

But exposure to excessive levels of boron, both internally and topically, could cause a range of harmful symptoms, including skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, gastric discomfort, skin flushing, and convulsions. While the SCCS opinion states that studies suggest boron is not absorbed through healthy skin in significant amounts, the chemical can enter through skin abrasions.

According to Which?, studies of high levels of boron in animals have been linked to low birth weights, birth defects, and developmental delays. “The EU states that exposure to very high levels of boron may impair fertility and may cause harm to the unborn child in pregnant women,” the Which? report reads.

Which? Director of Research Nikki Stopford said, “If you have school-age kids, you’re probably very well aware of the latest slime craze sweeping the playgrounds. Children love it.

“Parents buying slime for their children should have peace of mind that these toys are safe, so they will be shocked to find that the health of their children could be put at risk by these slimes.

“There must be fundamental changes to the product safety system.

“Manufacturers must stop making unsafe products and the government and retailers simply have to do a far better job of getting anything identified as a risk off the shelves and out of people’s homes.”

These products were found to contain excessive levels of boron, according to a study by Which? consumer group. (Screenshot via www.which.co.uk)

The Which? study found that the following products contained above the safe limit of 300mg/kg permitted in the EU.

  • Jupiter Juice (pink) by Toysmith
  • Fluffy Slime (pink) by CCINEE
  • Crystal Slime Magic Clay (pink) by Cosoro Dodolu
  • Mini Bucket Putty (green) by Baker Ross
  • Slime Toy (purple) by iBase Toy
  • Fluffy Slime (blue) by LOYO
  • Brezeh Free Slime Toy (orange) by Brezeh
  • My Fluffy Slime (green) by Virtuotrade

All of the above products were sold by Amazon. Following the study, the company reportedly told Which? it had removed the products from sale that had failed the tests.

The following slimes studied by Which? were found to have safe limits of boron:

  • Goopy Slime (green) by The Works
  • Hulk Green Halloween Slime by Amazon
  • Glam Goo Deluxe Pack (Clear) by Smyths

However, Which? said it is difficult for parents to determine which slimes are safe. Some of the slimes we tested were self-certifying the packaging with a CE mark, suggesting the product is safe, despite the fact that the boron levels were too high.

“The two high street retailers that we bought slime from both had safe levels of boron. Our advice is to approach all slime with caution,” Which? said.

The watchdog also warned parents about making “homemade” slime.

“In the same way, if you’re making your own slime you should also beware. Some ingredients listed for slime, such as some contact lens solutions, contain borax. Often slime recipes don’t list the quantities you need to be adding,” Which? said.