Swelling toys a health hazard, public warned

December, 12/2016 - 09:30

The Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality has warned consumers not to buy polymer “crystal balls,” saying it is a toy that could be harmful for children.

These colourful balls, containing super absorbent polymer, can grow up to 10 times their original size when soaked in water. — Photo thoibaokinhdoanh.vn
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – The Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality has warned consumers not to buy polymer “crystal balls”, saying it is a toy that could be harmful for children.

The toy, which contains uper absorbent polymer, are tiny balls with a diameter of about 1mm. When they are soaked in water for two to four hours, they can grow up to ten times their original size.

A Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper report says the balls are sold at many stores near schools attracting the interest of many students with their colours, shapes and sizes after swelling.

Authorities have banned the sale of these balls, and stores typically do not display them, but they continue to be sold, according to local reports.

 “The swelling polymer balls are a hot item. A package consists of 30 to 45 balls sold for just VNĐ2,000-3,000 (US$0.09-0.13),” a toy store owner on Hàng Mã Street told the Thời Báo Kinh Doanh (Việt Nam Economic Times) newspaper.

Most toy store owners tell customers that the products imported from China are safe and of good quality. However, they dismiss queries about quality certification, or get irritated.

There is past evidence that the toys can be toxic. Two years ago, three primary school students in southern Tây Ninh Province were hospitalised with their nervous system paralysed after playing with the “crystal balls”.

In 2007, 26 students and a teacher of a school in central Thanh Hóa Province suffered headaches and felt dizzy after handling the toy. At least one person fainted and another suffered some sort of seizure.

Associate Professor Nguyễn Duy Thịnh of the Institute of Biotechnology and Food Technology under the National University of Science and Technology said: “The swelling polymer balls might contain bicarbonate. When the balls break, it can cause skin allergies, including the formation of blisters. It is extremely dangerous for children if they accidentally swallow the balls. Their nerve system might be paralysed. The balls can also block the respiratory system or digestive system.”

The directorate that oversees quality has said the polymer ‘crystal ball’ products fail to meet national standard on dilating toys, which does not allow toys or part of toys to dilate more than twice their original sizes. It has also said that these toys do not meet national technical standards.

Some reports say that the coloured balls are a hot item in more than 40 countries with over 10 million packages containing eight billion balls being sold on the market.

Many countries like the US and Australia have issued urgent withdrawal orders after finding out a toxin named diazo in the balls. The toxin can cause cancer, respiratory system failures and paralyse the nerve system.

The directorate has asked its branches to carry out market surveys in cities and provinces nationwide to check the sales of these products in the domestic market and impose penalties on violators. - VNS