German agency warns of formaldehyde levels in toys

05 February 2010 17:57  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--A German government consumer agency warned on Friday about cases of high formaldehyde emissions from wooden or wood-based toys.

About 5% of toys and toy parts for small children probed had shown emissions of formaldehyde in excess of legal limits, said the Landesamtes für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit, the consumer and food protection agency for Lower Saxony state.

In youth and adult wood-based toys such as chess games, 15% of products probed showed high formaldehyde emissions, the agency said.

The agency did not cite particular brands, producers or producer countries as the source for the toys.

While non-compliance was not widespread, it was nonetheless unacceptable, it said, adding that it planned to continue its investigations in 2010.

It pointed in particular to research that linked formaldehyde to allergies, headaches and even cancer.

Formaldehyde counted as a so-called CMR substance, which stands for carcinogens, mutagens or substances with reproductive or developmental toxicity profiles, it added.

The agency probes around 650 wooden-, plastics-, metal-, and other toys each year for compliance with health, labelling and related rules. Non-compliance was typically running at around 10% of cases, with most cases concerning labelling, it said.

In the past, regulators in other jurisdictions have focused on phthalate levels in toys as a particular concern. However, in 2007 New Zealand also investigated high formaldehyde content in children’s clothes.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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