Saturday 21 April 2018

Second-hand toys could pose toxic health risk to children, study warns

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Lydia Smith

Second-hand toys could pose a health risk to young children, a study has found.

Old Lego blocks, dolls and toy cars were found to contain materials that do not meet modern toy safety guidelines, according to research published in the journal Environment Science and Technology.

Scientists from the University of Plymouth analysed 200 used plastic toys found in homes, nurseries and charity shops across southwest England.

High concentrations of hazardous elements, including barium, lead, bromine, cadmium, chromium and selenium, were discovered in many of the building blocks, figures and puzzles, all of which were a size that could be chewed by young children.

These elements are chronically toxic to children at low levels over an extended period of time.

Dr Andrew Turner, a reader in environmental science, used x-ray fluorescence spectrometry to analysed the presence of elements within individual toys.

“This is the first systematic investigation of hazardous elements in second-hand plastic toys in the UK,” he said.

“Second hand toys are an attractive option to families because they can be inherited directly from friends or relatives or obtained cheaply and readily from charity stores, flea markets and the internet.”

While modern toys marketed in the EU are approved under the Toy Safety Directive, there is no regulation covering the recycling or re-sale of older toys.

“Consumers should be made more aware of the potential risks associated with small, mouthable and brightly coloured old plastic toys or components,” Dr Turner added.

“Without that, the attractive cost, convenience and recyclability of previously used toys has the potential to create a legacy of chemical contamination for younger children.”

Independent News Service

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