Plastic toys from a Hanoi shop have tested positive for chemical compounds that can change hormone levels and cause birth defects, according to Vietnamese officials.
The Consumer Goods Quality Management Department at the Ministry of Science and Technology took two samples of the rideable toys - in the shape of reindeer - from a shop in Luong Van Can Street and they both tested positive for phthalates, which are often used as plasticizers.
Phthalates are restricted in Europe, the US and Australia for their link to reproductive difficulties.
The toys at the Hanoi shop are made in China and sold in shops throughout Vietnam.
News website VnExpress has reported that a sample from a yellow reindeer contained two phthalate compounds, one at nearly 0.5 percent while a red reindeer sample contained one compound at nearly 0.95 percent. Europe and the US laws make any sale or production of plastic products with more than 0.1 percent of a phthalate compound unlawful.
The goods quality department has asked Vietnam Institute of Chemistry to propose a limit to the amount of phthalate allowed in toys as Vietnam currently has no law restricting its use.
VnEpxress said the inspection followed a recall by Singapore retailer Aura Roboclean Singapore Pte Ltd of the same product.
Aura has told customers who were given the toys as free gifts to stop using them and dispose of them immediately, or return them to the company, after health authorities found unsafe levels of the substance in the toys, Spring, the Safety Authority for general consumer goods in Singapore, announced in December.
Vietnamese scientists said that although the country does not have official restrictions for now, phthalates are dangerous and parents should be alarmed, especially those with sons, in whom the negative impacts of phthalates have been seen more clearly.
Phthalates are used rather widely in plastics and sometimes food products to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity.
The compounds are released into the environment easily as there is no covalent bond between them and plastics in which they are mixed. The release is quicker in aging plastics and during increases in temperature. Children are most at risk due to their mouthing habit.
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