Call it the Mattel effect. Toys, even branded, are now considered lethal for children in India.
Reacting to Mattel’s decision of recalling eight lakh toys worldwide, The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought a reply on the safety of toys in India from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The BIS formulates standards for products sold in India.
According to a recent study by NGO Toxic Link, a few branded toys had toxic content higher than the permissible level. In India, lead up to 600 particles per million parts in toys is allowed, the standards equivalent to the US.
While the standards subscribe to global norms, Ravi Aggarwal of Toxic Link says there is no body to enforce the standards. “Essentially, there is no body to look after product safety on the lines of the US.” In the US, a product found violating the standards has to be withdrawn from the market under government supervision. “What is the use of having standards when there is no body to monitor them,” Aggarwal said.
The commission, in a letter to BIS Director-General Sayan Chatterjee has sought details about the BIS standards for Indian and imported toys and what the government was doing to ensure that the standards were being followed. “What safeguards have been taken by the BIS to protect children from toys containing lead paint and other hazardous substances,” the commission has asked.
Sandhya Bajaj, a member of the commission, told Hindustan Times, that toys with high lead content can be dangerous as children tend to bite the toys, thereby consuming the paint. Aggarwal confirmed that most paints used to colour toys and jewellery for children have high lead content, thus making them toxic for children.