The hidden dangers of Squishies and other toys
Not all toys were created equally.
When it comes to dangerous toys, our parental alarm bells go off at those with sharp edges, button batteries or even toy guns and other “weapons”. So who would have thought that the latest safety alert is related to the very cute, very soft and VERY popular Squishies. Are Squishies poisonous? Yes, apparently they are.
What Are Squishies? Are Squishies Poisonous?
Squishies are a type of soft toy made with foam. They are colourful and designed to look cute, and sold in a variety of shapes and sizes. These toys are very popular among five- to 12-year-old kids due to social media and their availability in toy shops and e-commerce sites.
Here’s where they can potentially become deadly. These squishies are often highly scented… by chemicals. The Ministry of Food and Environment of Denmark wanted to know if these posed a threat to little ones who loved playing with them.
After testing 12 squishies, the grim results spoke for themselves. All 12 squishies were emitting large amounts of toxic chemicals.
Since publishing the report, the Ministry of Food and Environment of Denmark has recommended parents to dispose of any squishies at home and refrain from buying any new ones.
Are Squishies Poisonous?
Jakob Elleman-Jensen, the Minister of Environment and Food for Denmark, says the fact that potentially dangerous toys are even allowed to be sold at all is “totally unacceptable”.
He adds, “It is the responsibility of the toy industry to ensure the products they sell are legal and free from harmful chemicals.”
In the case of the squishies, Elleman-Jensen notes that “there have been serious problems when children have inhaled substances that can irritate mucous membranes” which could possibly “damage their liver and reproductive abilities” in the long term.
Several toy shops in Denmark have already instructed staff to halt transactions involving squishies. Many others will follow suit, with many toy shops refunding customers who feel uncomfortable about their kids playing with these toys.
Squishy Foam Becomes Corrosive When Melted
The toxic perfume isn’t the only issue with squishies.
In a separate incident, a nine-year-old girl was squeezing her squishy when it suddenly blew open. Allegedly, some corrosive liquid started oozing out of the toy, blistering the girl’s hands. In the end, the mum rushed her to a hospital, where doctors said the blisters were the result of a chemical burn. She left the hospital with bandaged fingers.
However, Steve Tull, the Quality Assurance Director at Orb TM, a squishy manufacturer, explains that Squishies cannot burst while just normally playing with them. “It is physically impossible in the way they are manufactured unless the foam is heated,” explains Tull.
We don’t know how the toy exploded, but mums and dads, it’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to squishies, isn’t it?
Other Potentially Dangerous Toys
As outlined in a previous article, plastic toys can be harmful, too. There are three main reasons: plastic toys can contain toxic elements and release lead when swallowed. Do help prevent your child from chewing on toys.
Toys Made from Plastic
Scientists from the University of Plymouth analysed 200 used plastic toys like cars, trains, construction products and figures. These toys were found in homes, nurseries, and charity shops across Southwest England.
They found out that the toys had high concentrations of “hazardous elements” which were toxic to children at low levels over an extended period of time.
The researchers also simulated these plastic toys being swallowed in an artifical stomach and found something disturbing. Several toys, under stomach conditions, released quantities of the chemicals bromine, cadmium, or lead that exceeded limits set by the European Council’s Toy Safety Directive.
These toys were mostly also coloured yellow, red, or black. The lead author, Dr Andrew Turner, explains that this is mainly because toy manufacturers use chemicals like cadmium and lead to make these colours. He advises parents to also beware of high-risk toys with small, ingestible, brightly-coloured components.
Inter-Generational Toys Are Especially Unsafe, Too
It’s important that parents watch out for any toys they’re handing down. It’s highly probable that these could be harmful to children.
Turner said it’s difficult to say how long it takes for a toy to collect these chemicals over time.
“Toys made within the last decade are reasonably safe,” he said. “It’s the older ones that seem to be passed down through generations, but it is difficult to give a time scale.”
Tips to Handle Toys
Don’t Let Your Kids Chew on Them
Turner advised that cleaning cannot fully get rid of these chemicals since they are within the plastic. “These toys are generally safe to handle by hand, it’s just when they start chewing them.
“If you want to be on the safe side, avoid using them. I guess the real danger is when they swallow them,” Turner warned.
Be Mindful When Purchasing Toys
Other than avoiding squishies and other toys that smell suspicious, there are a number of ways you can choose better toys for your children:
- Select toys made of harmless materials like solid wood (unfinished or with a non-toxic finish). Hemp, organic cotton, wool or natural rubber are also safe.
- Don’t purchase or let your child play with old plastic toys – those made before 2010 – even if they’re cheaper in flea markets or if they’re a toy you used to play with.
- Plastic toys which are safe are normally labelled PVC- and BPA-free. Don’t buy toys which have a “No.3”, “No.7” or a “V” in their labels. Squishies, rubber ducks and plastic dolls are usual contenders for PVC, or Polyvinyl chloride. They have a whiff of vinyl shower curtains.