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Consumer protection in Hong Kong

14 out of 15 children’s scooter models contain cancer-related chemical: Hong Kong watchdog

Consumer Council calls on industry to minimise harmful content in toys and abide by safety standards

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 September, 2017, 7:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 1:48pm

More than half of children’s scooters among 15 brands in the city do not meet toy safety standards, while all but one contain substances linked to cancer, a test by the Hong Kong Consumer Council has found.

The consumer watchdog tested the toys – four models of two-wheelers and 11 models of three-wheelers – which can carry a load of 20kg to 65kg and are priced between HK$198 and HK$850.

The test focused on the materials used to make the products, how well they performed and the chemical content of their handle grips.

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All but one of the tested scooter handles were found to contain chemicals that could potentially cause cancer, as well as skin irritation and dermatitis – inflammation of the skin – for children.

The chemical group, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), is commonly found in plastics and overexposure may lead to cancer. As children grip the handles of scooters, they could come into contact with the substance and absorb it, the council said.

On Thursday, Professor Michael Hui King-man, chairman of the council’s publicity and community relations committee, said: “The council is calling on the industry to minimise the PAHs content in toys and children’s products to safeguard their health.”

Out of the 15 scooter brands tested, 10 of them exceeded limits on 18 types of PAHs listed by the German Product Safety Commission.

The standard is a voluntary certification for technical equipment measured using German and European safety requirements, and commonly appears on such products sold worldwide.

Hong Kong does not have a set limit for such chemicals in toys and children’s products.

Only one design – Primo by Globber Scooters – did not contain any PAHs.

The two-wheeled scooter recording the highest PAHs amount was Hello Kitty Folding Scooter by children’s toy manufacturer HTI, containing 3.1mg/kg.

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The three-wheeled model with the highest PAHs level was R4E by 21st Scooter with 5.8 mg/kg.

The council advised parents to teach their children to wash their hands immediately after riding a scooter to prevent the absorption of harmful PAHs.

None of the handle grip materials on the models tested that could come into contact with skin were found to contain any of the eight types of PAHs restricted for use by the European Union’s REACH regulation, which is less strict than the German requirements, the council said.

Out of the 15 brands, eight also “failed to comply fully with European toy safety standards”, Hui said, referring to the risk of injury during use.

Among the scooters tested, two steering beams and two standing platforms broke or collapsed, which “could lead to young children losing their balance and falling over,” according to Hui.

Five of the scooters were also found to have gaps between their wheels and wheel guards of five to 12mm, which were wide enough for children to accidentally get their fingers jammed, leading to injury.

HTI, the manufacturer of two of the scooter models tested – Disney Toy Story Move and Groove Scooter, and Hello Kitty Folding Scooter – was quoted by Choice Magazine as saying their products had been tested and met the EU requirements. It said it would produce the test reports to the Consumer Council.

The agent of Micro, of which one model Mini Micro Deluxe scooter was tested, said that there was stringent inspection at every step of the production.

Ozbozz, the manufacturer of Minion Twist Scooter, said its product met the local regulations on toy safety and it would produce its reports to the Consumer Council.

Mesuca, of which two models Marvel Spider Sense Spiderman 3 Wheel Scooter, and Disney Frozen Multi-Function Scooter were tested, said it would improve its product design and quality in the wake of the Consumer Council tests, the Choice Magazine reported.

The agent of 21st Scooter, whose scooter model R4E was tested, said that because its manufacturers and suppliers had not received notifications from the USA and European countries that they would formally adopt the German standards, it would be difficult for them to control the PAHs level in their products at this stage.

The council has referred the results to the Customs and Excise Department for follow-up action.