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Monday, October 17, 2016, 21:18

HK erasers ‘laced with dangerous substance’

By Dara Wang
HK erasers ‘laced with dangerous substance’
This photo taken on Sept 1, 2015 shows children waiting in line on the first day of school in Hong Kong. (Philippe Lopez / AFP)

HONG KONG – Fourteen erasers sold in Hong Kong were found to contain excessive levels of a chemical additive that may cause feminization of males and breast cancer to females, the city’s consumer rights watchdog said on Monday.

This substance may disturb the balance and functions of the endocrine system of children as classified by Taiwan's bureau of standards, metrology and inspection

The Consumer Council’s revelation came in its monthly report on the quality of various products sold in the city.

The Council tested 25 eraser samples and found that 24 of those contained phthalate plasticizers, with 14 of them found to have excessive levels of the chemicals. This substance may disturb the balance and functions of the endocrine system of children as classified by Taiwan's bureau of standards, metrology and inspection.

The heavy content of this substance may even cause early sexual maturation of children, according to the council’s report, which cited the result from the Jiangsu provincial bureau of quality and technical supervision on the mainland.

However, so far no relevant regulatory requirement and standard for erasers has been set in Hong Kong.

Two erasers – Plastic Eraser for dark lead pencil and Kokuyo Campus, claiming to be for primary school students – were found to contain over 50 percent of the substance, far more than the safety limit of 0.1 percent set by Taiwan.

Chairman of the Consumer Council's Publicity and Community Relations Committee Michael Hui King-man urged the government to set regulations for the content of this substance in stationery.

The Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance rules that children’s products should not contain more than 0.1 percent of this substance. However, the ordinance does not stipulate explicitly whether or not stationary is under regulation, Hui said.

"Normal usage of erasers has minimal impact to health. However, children that have the habit of licking, sucking or chewing erasers are exposed to higher risk of health problems," Hui said.

Hui advised parents to correct children's habits in using erasers and to consider not using erasers with aromas that may attract children to smell and even to chew them.

He also suggested keeping on most of the packaging of erasers to reduce children’s direct skin contact with the products.

dara@chinadailyhk.com

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