//
you're reading...
The Straits Times

Toy Hazards In Singapore? Case Cannot Do It Alone

A recent Case test of 50 toys bought from major stores found that nearly half had excessive amounts of toxic chemicals such as lead and phthalates – a substance that helps make plastic flexible” (Are We Toying With Danger?, Miss Jessica Lim).

I refer to the news report, “Are We Toying With Danger?” (October 24, 2010) by Miss Jessica Lim, which makes intriguing revelations on product and merchandise safety in Singapore. The results of a spontaneous test conducted by the Consumer Association of Singapore (Case) – which discovered that more than half of the toy products had excessive amounts of toxic chemicals – is nothing short of alarming. What is more shocking and discomforting is the fact that importers bringing in merchandise from overseas are not legally required to carry out safety checks on their products; and that these toys imported are not subject to any screenings or checks.

Is the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) – including Spring Singapore – playing dangerously with fire? In recent years, there has been a plethora of cases and instances of lead or phthalate poisoning and toy recalls around the world, riling up parents who are particularly concerned over the effects of such excessive chemical exposure on their child’s growth, learning and behavioural development. Even though actual lead poisoning cases might be far and few between, administrations are not taking it for granted. In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been steadily increasing its testing of children’s toys and products against a background of uneasiness and complaints. In Singapore, despite the first case of toy phthalate poisoning in Ai Tong School earlier this year, MTI and Spring Singapore are seemingly nonchalant and apathetic. Do the agencies need further scares and warning signs before things are done?

Case cannot go at it alone. While parents – and even elementary school educators – bear some responsibility during their selection and purchase of toys for their kids; in the bigger picture, should MTI not hold importers more accountable for the type and nature of products that they bring in? Case, operating in a space of apathy and lethargy, should be commended for its efforts to rally for more stringent toy safety rules and regulations.

MTI and Spring Singapore should consider the recommendation to extend product checks to include children’s products, doing sample inspections on batches if necessary. Further, as they continue to review and test the existing children’s products in the local market, they should also work more closely with Case to further the existing initiatives to increase awareness – to parents and educators – on toy hazards. Besides advising through seminars on proper and constructive selection of toys for their children and student, information can be disseminated to the stakeholders on the channels available should cases of poisoning or safety breaches be suspected.

It never hurts to be on our guard, for prevention is always more desired over cure. If we sit on our laurels, who will be there to bear the ramifications?

A version of this article was published in The Straits Times.

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow guanyinmiao's musings on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,363 other followers

Twitter

%d bloggers like this: