You may soon be able to buy toys for your child that come with a guarantee that they are non-toxic.
The central government will have to enforce quality standards for toys and stick to toxic limits specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the national body that develops product standards and issues quality certification.
The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the government why it was not enforcing these standards for imported toys as well as for those that are locally manufactured.
Many of these toys have a high density of toxic metals that can get absorbed through the skin and mouth and be highly dangerous for children.
The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari has given the Centre four weeks to explain its stand on implementing BIS norms. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Consumer Welfare Association, which is seeking a ban on the manufacture and import of toys that have toxic chemicals harmful to children. The organisation has also appealed that norms should be laid out that prescribe permissible limits of harmful and toxic elements in toys.
The PIL was filed last year after many western countries decided to ban Chinese-made toys as they contained toxic substances such as cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury and chromium.
Rajiv Chavan, the Association’s lawyer, had pointed out in court that as the BIS norms have not been made mandatory, there was no control or check on contents used by toy manufacturers.
On the orders of the high court, the central Department of Health Research has already undertaken an extensive research project for assessing the heavy metal and phthalates content in toys. On Thursday, government pleader Mandar Goswami submitted a schedule for the project; it is expected to take 18 months to complete.
Earlier, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board had admitted before court that some of the toys, particularly Chinese-made toys, contain toxic materials such as cadmium and lead, after conducting laboratory tests.