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If you buy toys made in Hong Kong, beware! A new report shows that a slew of toys made in Hong Kong contain high traces of toxic plasticiser phthalates. The report, based on Consumer Council findings, looked at 27 samples of toys and children’s products made of plastic and wood. More than half of the toys tested, including bath toys, riding toys and other toys such as puzzles, contained significant levels of phthalates. In fact, the levels of phthalates found were registered at hundreds of times higher than limits set by both the European Union and United States. Currently, children’s products that contain more than 0.1 per cent of phthalates are banned in the EU and US, but then again, we all know how diligent (ha!) the USA is about toy testing. Council chief Gilly Wong Fung-han states, “Parents shouldn’t let young children play with toys alone and they should make sure their children do not put the toys in their mouths.” Wong went on to note that parents should check all toy labels and wash them before allowing kids to play with them. You know, or um, they could just MAKE SAFER TOYS. Seriously? Wash all toys? Due to limited regulation of phthalates in products in Hong Kong this will likely continue to be a problem unless Hong Kong gets on board with strict toy safety regulations. The Legislative Council is considering amending the Toys and Children’s Products Safety Ordinance in order to mandate better control over phthalates in children’s products, but if history has anything to say about this, my guess is that safer toy changes will be slow-going at best and non-existent at worst. In general, you should support chemical reform in every country so that the world is a safe place for kids, but if you’re in the United States there’s only so much you can do. We suggest buying safe eco-toys made in America, by local companies whenever possible. Reports like this show that with imported products, you just can’t be sure what you’re getting.

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