This week in U talk, our internet question comes from 10-year-old Laure in France.
She asks: “When I was little, my mummy kept saying that toy safety was very important. But can a toy really be dangerous?”
Sylvia Maurer, Safety and Environment Senior Policy Officer with BEUC, the European Consumers’ Organisation, provides the answers.
BEUC acts as the umbrella group in Brussels for 42 independent national consumer organisations.
Sylvia Maurer: “Yes, toys can indeed be dangerous for children. Actually we see a lot of problems with small parts that can detach from toys and therefore cause suffocation risks to children.
“But you can also have very noisy toys that can damage the hearing ability of small children, or you can have a lot of chemicals contained in toys, so we urgently need to improve the safety of toys.”
On the 20th of July, new EU-rules on toy safety came into force in the 27 Member States.
Sylvia Maurer: “That’s good news for consumers because the old Toy Safety Directive dated from 1988 and it was completely outdated and not able to cope any more with the new challenges that toys pose today to health and the environment.
“There are a couple of very good improvements: for instance, national member states’ authorities have more competences and powers to do market surveillance.
“But actually we think that the provisions on chemicals are still not strong enough. So not all fragrances that can cause allergy are banned. And in addition, toys may contain a lot of chemicals that could still have a very negative influence on the hormonal system of children, and that is a matter of concern because children are still in their development phase, so we really have to make sure that we protect very vulnerable groups.
“And therefore the European Commission should revise the provisions on chemicals and really strengthen them.”