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Children's products have too many dangerous heavy metals: study

(Global Times)

09:38, December 08, 2011

About 32 percent of children's goods were found to contain harmful heavy metals when tested according to an investigation co-released by Greenpeace and the International POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) Elimination Network. The study was released in Beijing on Wednesday.

The two organizations randomly purchased 500 goods made for children in five cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Hong Kong. They were then put under a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer for inspection.

Among the goods, including toys and clothes, 163 pieces contained six kinds of hazardous heavy metal: lead, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and mercury. A total of 48 items had excessive lead.

Joseph DiGangi, a consultant at IPEN said at the press conference that health problems caused by heavy metal at an early age could be lifelong.

"The six kinds of heavy metal found can harm people's blood, immunity and digestive systems," said Wu Yixiu with Greenpeace's Beijing Office. "A small amount of lead or mercury could impact a child's neural development."

Some parents are concerned.

"Babies like to bite toys and suck fingers after touching toys. I cannot imagine if my son was playing with a poisonous toy," Chen Ju, a mother of a 3-year-old boy in Shanghai, told the Global Times.

Heavy metal usually comes from dye or reclaimed plastic, said Huang Minsheng, director of the environmental science department at the East China Normal University.

"Children will be directly infected by heavy metal if they bite the contaminated product," Huang told the Global Times. "But hand-washing helps wipe off what they get on their hands when touching the toys."

To eliminate heavy metal-pollution in children's products, Huang said the industry should set stricter standards to manufacture them. "Relevant authorities should also strengthen their supervision of these products."

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