Popular toy full of dangerous chemicals

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The Danish EPA has tested twelve soft foam toys, the so-called squishies, and all twelve emitted high levels of harmful substances. They will now be withdrawn from the market and the minister is calling on the toys industry to act.

Cakes, animals, ice cream - squishies come in all shapes and colours and are very popular with children between the ages of 5-12.  Unfortunately, many of the foam toys can be harmful to children. New tests carried out by the Danish EPA show that 12 out of 12 tested products contained high levels of harmful chemicals.

- Selling toys that may be harmful to children is completely unacceptable. The toy industry is responsible for ensuring that the products they sell are legal and do not contain harmful chemicals. In this case, we’re talking about serious violations, where children breathe in substances that may cause mucous membrane irritation and which may, in the long term, be harmful for fertility and cause liver damage, said Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, Minister for Environment and Food.

Squishies removed from the shelves 

As part of the chemicals initiatives 2018-21, the Danish EPA examines consumer products that are targeted towards vulnerable groups such as children. The Danish EPA’s examination of the popular toy began in March because squishies often smell scented and of chemicals.

- When all twelve toys contain high amounts of harmful substances, alarm bells begin to go off.  This indicates that there may be an overall problem with all squishies on the market.  I therefore think that all distributors and importers should take their responsibility seriously and remove all squishes from their shelves. They should not be returned to shelves until it can be documented that they do not emit chemicals that may be harmful to children, said Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

The twelve tested products will now be transferred to the Danish EPA Chemical Inspection Service who will ensure the withdrawal of the products from the market and ascertain whether there are grounds to report this to the police.  In the case of gross violations, these can be reported to the police. The Danish EPA Chemical Inspection Service will now assess whether to do so.  

The Danish EPA test results will be shared with all EU Member States to make them aware of the problem.  The Minister for Environment and Food will via EU cooperation seek to ban these substances.

Click here to read more about the Danish EPA investigation. (In Danish only)

Facts:

  • A squishy is a small foam toy that children can collect and play with.
  • The Danish EPA has tested 12 squishies for emission of chemical substances.
  • The results show that all 12 squishies emit chemical substances at such high concentrations that some substances put children at high risk e.g. if they sleep with their squishies or have several of them in their bedroom.
  • The fact that all 12 squishies were problematic indicates that this is a general problem.
  • The identified substances are e.g. dimethylformamide, styrene and toluene.
  • These substances can impair fertility, act as carcinogens, cause liver damage, and irritate the mucous membrane or eyes.
  • The toys were purchased at toy stores, smaller shops, Danish and foreign online shops.  

Further information:

Rune Gleerup, Press Officer, the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, tel: +45 9133 4766, email: rugle@mfvm.dk 

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