September, 27 2012 11:02:57

Toxic Chinese lanterns prompt toy crackdown


Children choose toys being sold on Ha Noi's Hang Ma Street. Toys made in China have flooded the domestic market, and people have raised concerns about their quality as some toy samples were found to contain toxic substances. — VNA/VNS Photo Doan Tung
HA NOI (VNS)— The Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked market watch departments in cities and provinces to tighten inspections of the toy market and strictly punish any violations in quality, especially during the on-going Mid Autumn Festival season.

The move was made after news spread about dragonfly-shaped plastic lanterns imported from China contained cadmium levels123 times higher than permitted.

Previously, the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported that a sample of one made-in-China lantern contained significantly high levels of cadmium, which can cause cancer, birth defects and even death. Cadmium is among the three most dangerous metals. The others are mercury and lead.

Deputy Head of the Institute of Applied Materials Science's Materials and Biopharmaceutical Chemistry Section Tran Ngoc Quyen confirmed to Viet Nam News that the sample was tested by his institute.

He also suggested that parents not buy illegal toys in bright colours like red, orange or cobalt because these could contain high amounts of cadmium or lead.

China-made toys are ubiquitous, overwhelming locally produced toys in the toy-selling streets of Ha Noi such as Hang Ma, Hang Luoc and Luong Van Can.

Most of these toys were said to be smuggled across the border in northern Lang Son or Quang Ninh provinces. This means that the toys have no CR (conformity of regulation) stamps as they were not tested by local authorities in charge of enforcing substance limitations.

China-made plastic lanterns in animal shapes are being sold for VND50,000-75,000 (US$2.4-3.6).

A toy seller in Hang Luoc Street said that she has bad feelings about the poisonous lanterns. She also said that lantern sales have decreased one-third compared to the same period last year.

Nguyen Thuy Duong, a mother in Kim Ma Street, said that she would buy other toys for her children instead of the dangerous China-made lanterns.

Duong also admitted that China-made toys were more beautiful and cheaper than local ones.

"That's why parents buy them. They don't realise they could pose a danger to their children," she said, adding that she would only buy toys with CR stamps for her kids.

Meanwhile, the Ha Noi Market Watch is working with the police to enhance inspections in places where smuggled goods are particularly pervasive, including children's toys.

The office's deputy director Nguyen Hong Bao said that children's toys without CR stamps would be seized and destroyed while sellers would be fined VND15 million (approximately US$714) per case.

"Those who repeat violations will have their business licences withdrawn," added Bao.

According to the market watcher, authorities would enforce stricter control in the main trafficking roads, warehouses and market areas in an effort to deter illegal toy trading, especially on the occasion of the Mid Autumn Festival. — VNS

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