As governments respond to toxic toys with more regulations, consumers are becoming more selective – leaving importers with no choice but to regularly test their products for hazardous substances.

In a recent test study by American nonprofit The Ecology Center, 42% of 700 popular toys were found to contain the so-called 'worst in class' plastic, PVC.

Phthalates, the compounds used to soften PVC and other plastics, have been linked to many major health problems in children, including metabolic disruption (leading to obesity), liver and testicular damage.

In October 2010, AsiaInspection conducted a phthalate content study on selected plastic toys produced in China. Approximately 25% of these toys were found to contain dangerous levels of phthalates such as ethylhexyl, and thus not conforming to EU and US chemical content regulations such as CPSIA and REACH Annex XVII.

These regulations are real, and failing to comply has real consequences. In their latest annual report, the EU's RAPEX (the Community Rapid Information System for non-food consumer products) reported The number of unsafe products banned, withdrawn, or recalled fell by 20% in 2011 compared to the previous year. In 2010 the number of notifications to Rapex increased by 13% from the previous year. From 1,866 in 2008 to 1,993 in 2009. Of these 1,993 products later pulled from the EU market:

---- 60% were made in China or Hong Kong.

---- 34% were children's products (more than any other category).

---- 26% of notifications were due to chemical hazards (more than any other category).

Consumers are responding to such figures by becoming better informed, and more selective shoppers. An article published online by nonprofit consumer group Women in Europe for a Common Future urges its readers:

---- Avoid very cheap toys, because they often contain more hazardous chemicals.

---- Don't buy toys with a strong chemical smell or strange texture.

---- Unpack any new toy and leave it outdoors to allow hazardous chemicals to evaporate.

How can you ensure you're sourcing safe products from quality suppliers?

Each time you import from Asia without professional third party quality control and lab testing, you put your consumers and business at risk. Don't trust the factory to ensure your products are safe for consumer use and meet your domestic regulations; the responsibility is yours—but you're not in it alone.

Performing lab testing on your product with a third-party service provider like Quasatek means you have a partner that knows how to navigate complex EU and US chemical content regulations, including REACH, EN71, CPSIA, etc.

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