Belgium is to ban the sale of all foam puzzle mats for babies and toddlers, citing tests showing they contain a cancer-causing chemical.
Formamides are used to soften the foam in the mats but are corrosive and can be deadly. Toxicologist Alfred Bernard explained:
“They are solvents, residues from the manufacturing process that stay in the product afterwards. They can be absorbed through breathing or through the skin. As a rule, children should not be exposed to these products.”
Belgium becomes the first European country to ban the mats and will impose a 20,000 euro fine for anyone found selling them. Jean-Philippe Ducart, a spokesman for a consumer watchdog said:
“They will be illegal in 2011 but in the meantime we ask that they be withdrawn from the market in the interest of public health and the health of children exposed to them.”
An EU-wide ban on the mats is expected within the next few years.
In November, the EU prohibited the sale of plastic baby bottles containing Bisphenol A, a compound that tests suggest have adverse health effects on babies.
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