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Inferior Toys Threaten Children's Health

Only 76.3 percent of toys were found qualified in a on-spot check, according to a recent official survey, which warned that toys of inferior quality and unhealthy contents are a growing threat to both the physical and mental health of children in China.

The survey released by the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (SAQSIQ) disclosed that China now has over 30,000 varieties of kids' toys, which insiders predict will grow annually by 40 percent and the consumption for toys may exceed 100 billion yuan (US$12.1 billion) by 2010.

As more and more Chinese parents rely on toys to develop children's intelligence, operation skills and imagination, toys with severe security dangers are also creeping into the market, attracting consumers with cheaper prices and colorful appearances.

Toy guns are usually the favorites of boys. However, tests by related quality inspection departments show that hard plastic bullets used in some of the toy guns can penetrate two pieces of craft paper five meters away and even break through four or five layers of paper if the distance is shortened to within one meter.

"These 'guns' can cause physical injuries, and can even harm hearing if the shooting volume is beyond stipulated standards," experts say.

Rag dolls filled with industrial waste, such as black-colored moldy cotton or gauze discarded by hospitals, have caused allergy cases among kids.

Sources from the Beijing City Management Office showed that local police seized over 80 such inferior rag dolls at a park gate on March 15 this year, the annual "consumers' rights day".

Peddlers bought these dolls at four to five yuan (48-60 US cents) each, but sold them at 10 to 15 yuan (US$1.21-1.81). "Though they are much cheaper compared with prices in department stores, it's still quite lucrative," a policeman said.

High profits have encouraged reckless production and sales of the filth-stuffed toys. Just before June 1, International Children's Day, a spot check by the Beijing Quality & Technical Supervision Bureau detected that only 11 of the 23 types of tested rag dolls were up to standards, with the qualification rate only at 47.8 percent.

When parents had become aware of the quality problem, horrific and pornographic toys had emerged beyond their imagination and polluted children's minds unawares.

Expert are worried about the rapid spread of so-called "horror" toys, like toy pens that can "explode", fake cigarettes capable of electric shocks and bloody masks.

"Scaring by horror can have a long-term negative influence on children's growth. Naughty kids getting pleasure by horrifying others will also become mentally disturbed," said an educational expert.

Some parents also complain about incomplete usage directions for toys. "Some don't point out the targeted age range and some omit necessary security warnings," revealed the SAQSIQ survey.

To cope with these problems, a newly amended regulation on toy technologies and security will be put into effect on Oct. 1 this year, which will provide parents with legal weapons against inferior toys.

(Xinhua News Agency June 10, 2004)

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