Nature India | Indigenus

Toy trouble

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi made some characteristically startling revelations today when they declared that Indian toys have high levels of toxic phthalates — plastic-softening chemicals that can lead to a wide range of health disorders and are especially dangerous for very young children who chew up anything at hand.

In its lab tests, CSE found phthalates in all samples of toys tested, all exceeding internationally accepted safe phthalate limits by over 45 per cent. The revelation is especially disturbing since India is all set to lift the ban on import of toys on January 23, 2010. India and China have no regulations to control use of phthalates in toys.


Phthalates are known to damage the male reproductive system, impair lungs and affect the duration of pregnancy, according to a CSE release. CSE tested 24 toy samples randomly bought in Delhi and manufactured in India, China, Taiwan and Thailand. The study challenges manufacturers’ claims of producing ‘non-toxic’ toys.

Earlier CSE studies have made significant impact on government policies. The organisation had tested pesticide levels in soft drinks forcing the government to set standards for such food items. It also conducted tests to determine pesticide residue levels in human blood samples, an endosulfan analysis, a study of transfats in edible oils, and studies to detect contamination levels in the soil and groundwater in and around the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal.

The new study comes at a time when the government policy on import of toys can still be reviewed and standards set for the safety of millions of babies chewing teethers in this country.


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    Dr. Prem Raj Pushpakaran said:

    Phthalates or alkyl aryl esters of 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, though popular as cheap plasticisers are turning out to be a potential environmental and health hazard. Though the Western world has put restrictions on the use of materials manufactured out of Phthalates, Indian policy makers are yet to come up with a bold steps to curb the sales of the same.