Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Most Indian plastic toys are 'toxic'

China-made toys
Most of the toys were imported from China and Taiwan

Many of the plastic toys sold in India may contain chemicals harmful to children, an environmental group says in a report.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) studied a sample of Indian toys and found that all of them contained high levels of phthalates.

Phthalates are chemicals used to soften plastic and the group says India has no regulations to control their use.

The use of these chemicals in Europe and the US is strictly regulated.

'Most vulnerable'

The CSE studied a sample of toys sold in India and found that all of them contained high levels of phthalates, Sunita Narayan, director of CSE told a press conference in Delhi.

Nearly half of them exceeded the internationally accepted safe limit, she said.

Most of the toys were imported from China, Taiwan and many were produced in India.

The study points out that the youngest children are the most vulnerable because they tend to put toys in their mouth.

While India has set voluntary standards covering the safety of toys, there are no binding regulations.

"I think that is really the concern here in India, that we run away from regulating industry and it is our government, not the Chinese government. Chinese government is responsible for China, Indian government is responsible to us," Ms Narayan is quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

The study says a ban on the import of toys not meeting the voluntary standards is due to expire later this month.

The CSE called on the Indian government to impose mandatory standards on all plastic toys as quickly as possible.

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