Many of the plastic toys sold in India can seriously harm the health of children playing with them, as they may contain an extremely toxic chemical, said an environmental group in its report today.
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in releasing its latest study today said that its Pollution Monitoring Laboratory has found high levels of phthalates, a chemical used to soften plastic, in all samples of toys it tested.
The laboratory, which tested samples of Indian toys, found out that over 45 per cent of the samples exceeded the internationally accepted safe limit for phthalates, a chemical strictly regulated in the US and Europe.
Phthalates are organic chemicals commonly used as plasticisers to make plastic supple. They are responsible for plastic products being cheap, easy to clean - and toxic.
Phthalates can damage the male reproductive system, impair the lungs and affect the duration of pregnancy. Laboratory tests on mammals indicate phthalates can trigger asthma and allergies, and lead to poor semen quality, genital defects, premature breast development and skeletal defects.
Children under three years are more likely to be exposed to phthalates because they tend to chew and suck on plastic toys – and since their metabolic, endocrine and reproductive systems are immature, they are more vulnerable as well.