Cheaper loom bands 'could pose cancer risk'
THEY are the fad of the summer - with brightly coloured packets available in every corner store around the country and children of all ages feverishly weaving them into complicated bracelets.
However, a new independent laboratory report has found that levels of a toxic carcinogenic chemical, phthalates, were present in some cheaper 'unofficial' loom band charms in levels massively over those permitted by EU regulations.
The National Consumer Agency has now been approached to see if pressure can be brought to bear on retailers to ensure they are stocking safe products.
The original Rainbow Loom Bands have confirmed that their product complies with US safety standards but cheap 'copycat' bands manufactured in the Far East carry no EC safety mark.
The report, compiled by the independent Assay Laboratory in Birmingham in the UK was commissioned by a toy retailer who wanted to ensure that the loom bands product he was selling was safe.
The Laboratory at the Birmingham Assay Office had focused on the charms supplied with loom band-making packs and found that they had tested a number of charms that contained over 50pc by weight of phthalates.
The level permitted by the EU is 0.1 pc of total weight.
Phthalates are used as a softener in PVC, plastics and has been found to migrate from plastic into the body if it comes into contact with saliva or sweat. The chemical is a suspected carcinogen which means that it could cause cancer and is also known to disturb the endocrine system in both humans and animals.
The Assay Lab said that due to customer confidentiality, they were unable to publish any details of the brands that failed tests. However they commented that the loom bands craze "is throwing up some alarming results considering these products are so child appealing."
The report was highlighted by the Mummypages.ie website, which had done an online search to see if anyone had carried out any independent research on the loom bands.
Laura Haugh, "mum in residence" at Mummypages, said that as the mother of a five-year-old who had been taught how to make loom band bracelets at summer camp, she was concerned to know whether the material used was safe.
"I thought it was a great activity to keep them busy around the pool on holiday and that it was better than looking for digital devices but I always supervised because I'd heard there were health risks. But now it has gone to a whole new level," she said.
And while the study focused on the charms that can be fitted to the bracelets, Ms Haugh said the material used in the charms was similar to the bands.