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Posted By haroon On March 2, 2010 @ 9:09 am In Editorials | 1 Comment
Tuesday, 02 Mar, 2010
An investigation undertaken by this newspaper has revealed the presence of dangerously high levels of contaminants in toys commonly available in Karachi.
These toxic metals and chemicals include elements such as lead, cadmium and various phthalates that are serious health hazards. Worryingly, there is no system in Karachi — or indeed the country — to keep a check on contaminant levels in toys, whether locally manufactured, imported or smuggled. The Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority, the country’s apex body for quality control, has no toy-specific guidelines.
Without instituting quality-control guidelines or laws, Pakistan has allowed the unbridled import of toys on the one hand, and permitted local manufacturers of such items to set their own profit-driven standards on the other. The manufacturers are not required to meet any safety or standardisation guidelines, and no audit has ever been undertaken to examine the quality of materials used, such as plastics and dyes. This can cause untold harm to children. For example, even exposure to low levels of lead can have a cumulative effect and retard mental growth, while phthalates, which are absorbed through the mouth or skin, have been linked to hormone/metabolic disorders besides birth defects in the user’s children.
The risk posed by toxic toys is high enough for other countries to pass legislation on the matter; the US, for example, banned toys containing phthalates in 2008, while in 2007 nearly 19 million toys were withdrawn worldwide by Mattel, a toy company, because of health risks to children. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission undertook an investigation into lead levels in toys last December, and the government of India has also recently committed to testing all toys for toxicity. It is vital that Pakistan undertake similar efforts; with the country’s population skewed so heavily towards the young, any exposure to toxins is unacceptable.
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