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Hello and welcome to another edition of Zone Bébé’s Newsletter.

This week I have translated the interesting article on toys from my favourite test-organisation Öko-Test. It is astonishing that making money is more important than looking after the health of the future generation. But read for yourself.

There are three more items I would like to tell you about:

Have a look at the new section for greeting cards and gift tags at Zone Bébé. A nice little selection of cards made from recycled paper and printed with vegetable inks at a very reasonable price. You will find birthday and neutral cards and gift tags. Floris, the company who makes these cards, donates 10% of their profit to hospitals in India, their cards are assembled by handicapped people in Holland.

I am sure you will find a nice card.

And on promo this coming week: essential care shower gels are 10% off.

And lastly heads up on a small promotion starting beginning of February also with essential care: for 1 Organic Avocado Replenishing cream bought, receive an Organic Lip Silk absolutely free of charge (value: 7.50€) as long as stock lasts

Children’s toys – “I just want to play...”

Price can but doesn’t have to be a quality indicator. Much of what is available in the shelves of the ever growing and more colourful world of toys belongs quite simply in the bin and not in the hands of our children - this is regularly shown by tests done by Öko-Test.

So many toys are already giving a bad impression when first unpacked. This experience was made by an Öko-Test reader, who had bought a plastic figure from a popular children’s program.

At home with daughter Johanna, the joy of having a new toy was short-lived: "When I unpacked the toy it emanated such a strong chemical or what-ever-smell that it was hard to believe", wrote the angry mother.

When she wanted to return the toy, she got funny looks from the shop owner. But after a smell sample, the shop owner agreed to take the “stinky” toy back. The supplier of the toy had no explanation for the chemical smell and only offered expert reports on hazardous ingredients as well as for product safety.

For obvious reasons did this mother decline the offer of a substitute figure.

Not every toy that smells has to contain harmful substances, sometimes it is just the production smell that remains. But ones nose is often the only thing that can guide the purchase of a toy.

There is a European norm that regulates maximum permissible values. But these are mainly so lax that the manufacturers have no reason to renounce the use of harmful chemicals.

Even the planned new toy directive is according to experts at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung - BfR) inadequate and even leads to a deterioration of consumer protection.

For example, there are clearly greater amounts of toxic lead allowed than before. Hormonally active chemicals such as organotin compounds are not even listed.

And limits for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - PAH short – contained in the oils responsible for softening the plastic are far too high. PAHs are suspected of being carcinogenic.

The BfR calls for the especially dangerous lead compound benzo (a) pyrene, a 500 times more stringent limit as would be allowed in the proposed toy directive as of 2013, and even the German Association of Toy Industries (Deutsche Verband der Spielwaren Industrie - DVSI) favours with regards to children's health, much lower values.

Even politicians in this country (Germany) agree - and that is rare: according to the group of Alliance90/The Greens, who had already voted in the European Parliament against the phony compromise directive have now asked all the other groups represented in the Lower House of German Parliament (Bundestag) with relevant motions to the Federal Government to implement more stringent limits at EU level.

In fact, however, it should have happened long ago - in July 2011, the new toy directive should be passed into national law. Indeed Maureen Logghe of the the European Commission agreed at a public meeting, " to review any new scientific knowledge ", so the directive can be constantly updated. Nevertheless, in her view it was already among the strictest in the world.

Following our demand to the Commission they finally answered more concretely: that the limits for lead are regarded as "not appropriate anymore" and that they will be revised. In addition, a new EU group of experts will put the so-called CMR-substances, which include some of the PAHs to the test. CMR means that the material is officially classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction. Bans, if any, according to the Commission could only be given to the parent chemical regulation, since in addition to children’s toys many other consumer products are concerned.

As long as the EU does not rework the limits there will be little that changes in Öko-Test’s experience. Also in the Öko-Test children's toys test in December 2008 and 2009, some toys had failed. So they wanted to know whether in December 2010 the manufacturer of the offending products had now improved.

A total of 35 toys, including seven stuffed animals, nine plastic figures, 13 hand puppets and six dolls were bought again - or at least a similar product - and sent to the labs. Added to that the football jerseys of the 18 German Football League - in children's sizes for small fans.

Some manufacturers are willing to change something, but most of them are unrelenting and consider our request as excessive or even complain to Öko-Test. For the majority of the toys nothing has been done, despite our criticisms of previous years. Only little progress has been made with the football jerseys.

Bottom line, however, three quarter of all jerseys are still "poor" or "unsatisfactory ".

For the toys this remains valid for more than half of the toys.

Reference “Kinderspielzeug I”;bernr=07;co=;suche=kinderspielzeug

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