29 March 2004, Business Standard

Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) has launched a campaign to alert buyers to identify toy producers whose products do not conform to safety standards.

Indian manufacturers were not bound to follow safety standards while making toys, unless it was being exported. This placed children at risk, consumer protection group CUTS has warned.

The group would like parents and doctors to inform CUTS about any child injured by a dangerous or defective toy. Its research on the issue had identified choking as the most common hazard, caused by small balls, marbles or loose parts in toys.

Some toys had sharp edges as well as Indian laws were silent on this. Another hazard was injury or even death from long strings or cords attached to toys, as they often got wrapped around a child’s neck.

Very noisy toys interfered with children’s learning abilities, CUTS added. In addition, electricity-powered toys had caused burns from their heating element or could deliver shocks.

CUTS said some producers used low quality fibres and materials to make toys. Since infants often sucked toys, this could cause disorders like allergies, absorption of carcinogenic colours or poisoning.

Most toys in the Indian market ignored safety standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) on toy safety related to mechanical and physical forms as well as toxicity as manufacturers were not obliged to adhere to BIS guidelines unless they were exporting. Enforcement of guidelines was not mandatory.