Many counterfeit toys that have flocked the market in 2015 contain toxic and harmful chemicals that may cause cancer, infertility and asthma. Health experts urge parents to be vigilant when buying toys for their kids this holiday season.
Some fake Disney figures were found to contain up to 18 chemicals that are considered toxic, especially to babies who chew on parts of the toys. Officials from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) in the UK have already seized imitations of Disney figures that were found to contain high levels of phthalates.
Counterfeit dolls from the Disney film "Maleficent" contained 18 times the permitted limit of phthalates, while fake figures from "Frozen" were also found to contain the chemicals.
Phthalates are used to soften plastic to make it more flexible, transparent and stronger. While the effects of phthalates on human health have not been completely determined, there are certain types of phthalates that have been confirmed to cause health problems.
The National Toxicology Program of the United States concluded that high levels of the di-n-butyl phthalate may affect the body's reproductive processes and possibly cause infertility.
Ingestion of phthalates may lead to an increased risk of asthma, cancer and fertility difficulties in the future. Children are usually exposed to phthalates when they chew on toys or other products made with the chemicals. Since phthalates are widely used in many consumer products, the amount should be regulated by manufacturers to prevent toxicity.
"It is frightening to think that large quantities of phthalates are still being used in children's toys, especially when it can cause such serious long-term consequences to a person's health," said Robert Chantry-Price, a product safety officer at the CTSI.
He said that the chemicals found in the toys are "carcinogenic and mutagenic," but even though the law prohibits more than 0.1 percent of phthalates in children's toys, high amounts of the chemicals can still be found in many toys and even in child care merchandise.
If young children or babies get their hands on these toys, they will likely chew on the plastic and consume the toxic chemicals, Chantry-Price added.
Officials urge parents to purchase toys only from reputable shops and be cautious when buying toys by not easily falling for the most affordable deals they see. They should avoid products that are surprisingly cheap.
The CTSI have confiscated more than 2.5 million unsafe and counterfeit items from the market between 2014 and 2015. The total cost of these products amounts to approximately $118.5 million.
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