Plastic toys in Delhi high on toxic elements
A new global survey has found that toys, some of which were sold in Delhi, contain high levels of toxic elements usually found in electronic wastes.
The study claimed that contaminants that can damage the nervous system and reduce intellectual capacity were found in toys made out of recycled plastic and given to children to exercise their brains such as the Rubik’s Cube.
The study was done by IPEN, a global civil society network; Arnika, an environmental organisation in the Czech Republic; and SRADev Nigeria. Delhi-based environmental organisation Toxics Link was one of the participants.
The Toy Association of India, however, refused to comment on the findings.
Six samples from India were among the 100-plus samples collected from across 26 countries. Four out of these were collected from various market places in Delhi, including Lajpat Nagar, Laxmi Nagar, Sarojini Nagar and Kotla.
“Four samples collected from India contained high levels of OctaBDE and DecaBDE. The highest concentration of OctaBDE and DecaBDE was found in the sample collected from Laxmi Nagar,” said Prashant Rajankar, programme coordinator at Toxics Link.
Octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE), decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) are known to disrupt hormone systems, adversely impacting the development of the nervous system and children’s intelligence.
While DecaBDE and OctaBDE are the primary toxic components of e-wastes, HBCD is usually found in polystyrene building insulation and in electronic equipment. While HBCD and OctaBDE are listed in the Stockholm Convention for elimination, DecaBDE is yet to be listed under the elimination treaty.
Even though the proposed safe limit for OctaBDE is 50 ppm as per the convention, the range of the contaminant found in toys purchased from Delhi and Kolkata were found to be in the range of 0-336 ppm. The HBCD level in Indian toys was found to be within safe limits (below 100 ppm) but higher when compared to many other countries.
“There must be a guideline defining the protocol to recycle plastic which contain additives such as flame retardants as they are highly toxic. Else such chemicals would find their way into every product and prove hazardous for our health,” said Satish Sinha, associate director of Toxics Link.
There are around 178 recycling units in the entire country. Only a small fraction of the estimated 68,000 metric tonnes of e-waste that Delhi produces is routed through the 29 collection centres in the city. The rest goes to the unorganised sector for metal extraction in a crude manner.
A similar study carried out by Toxics Link a few years ago revealed high concentrations of cadmium and lead toys that were collected from Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai.
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