Not all soft objects are soft on your kid's health. Know the hazards of soft toys
and how to protect your child without stealing the smile on their face.
Teddy bears, bunnies, and all types of cute-looking soft toys that most of our little ones are obsessed
with becoming an easy choice when we think of giving them a present. The way they cuddle them or
talk to them makes them worth it for any parents. These soft toys become an essential part of their
childhood. Why only kids? Some of us don't want to part with them even when we get older. These
toys become an integral part of our childhood memories. However, the bright, cuddly teddies and
Disney character-based toys that you give your little ones as gifts are not as safe as they look like.
Such stuffed toys have mostly failed the testing survey of the Quality Council of India. Nearly 67% of
the imported toys were unable to pass the test. The QCI conducted the test on the toys available in
the Delhi NCR market and found them to have some elements that are majorly harmful for children.
Soft Toys: Not Just Objects Of Fun But A Potential Health Hazard
Soft toys are manufactured using a number of chemical compounds. Each of these compounds is
capable of causing potential health risks. In fact, the artificial fur fabric (mostly toxic polyester-
based) that is used to make stuffed toys can cause allergies and choking incidents in small children.
Following are some of the soft toy substances that have short to long-term effects on kids’ health:
Dyes And Pigments
Dyes and pigments are common chemicals used in toy making. It usually
involves the usage of a toxic chemical named Aniline. Infants and small kids have a habit of putting
things in their mouths. There is a high chance that they might put these soft toys in their mouth,
eventually coming in contact with these harmful chemicals.
Fire retardants are substances used to check the spread of fire. Almost every soft
toy contains it. These substances are highly toxic and can cause hormonal changes in kids.
Plasticizers are substances that make your toy flexible and soft. These chemicals change
the sharp ends of the toys. It is to ensure your child doesn't injure themselves while playing with it.
Plasticizers contain phthalates. Nearly 45% of soft toys failed on the acceptable levels of phthalates,
a group of carcinogenic chemical compounds. 85% of these toys are imported from China, followed
by Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Germany, Hongkong, and the USA. The harmful carcinogenic chemicals
present in the toys can cause skin damage, respiratory disorders, allergies in children. Phthalates are
also known to disrupt the hormonal system of your child and can retard their mental development.
PVC is the cheapest available plastic and hence is used widely for the production of toys. These have
tested positive for lead and cadmium too.
Formaldehyde is a wrinkle-resistant material used in soft toys to prevent
any wrinkles on them. However, formaldehyde causes hypersensitivity in kids and creates irritation
on the skin and mucous membranes.
How Will You Save Your Child From The Health Risks Posed By Soft Toys?
Your children are much more sensitive to health risks as they are in their early stages of
development. It makes them more susceptible to diseases. Several harmful chemicals are used for
manufacturing soft toys, having grave health consequences on your child. Continuous engagement
with these soft toys can prove fatal. Many parents stuff their child's room with soft toys. It is also a
raging form of children's room décor. However, try replacing them with some other alternative as
soon as possible as these toys are also sources of indoor air pollution. It is not easy to keep your kids
away from such toys. What is essential and effortless is making them enjoy using these soft toys and
gradually taking their addiction.
Another effective solution is to install an air purifier with HEPA filters. These filters are effective in
reducing indoor air pollution and elevating the air quality. Make sure that your child doesn't develop
the habit of chewing the soft toys. You need to be vigilant in such a situation as when chewing; the
chemicals enter the system even more quickly than inhaling them. You can also decide on a
particular time for your child to play with their soft toy. This way, you can reduce the exposure time
and proximity of your child with these toys.
The Government's Steps Toward The Issue
As per the reports of QCI testing, the amended notification of the Directorate General of Foreign
Trade dated December 2, 2019, has made consignment-based testing mandatory for any imported
goods. If they fail the quality testing, the consignment would either be destroyed or sent back to the
However, this rule is applicable to only imported soft toys. What about the soft toys that are
As buyers, as parents, we need to be extra observant while purchasing gifts for our children. We
should not buy soft toys that are not made with non-toxic non-polyester fabric. In an attempt to see
a smile on their face, we should not put their health at risk.
Gas heating systems, leaking chimneys, fire places emits carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other harmful pollutants. Plastics and common household cleaners, paints, paint thinner often placed under the kitchen sink, release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), when used and stored. Overheating of non-stick cookware releases toxic fumes. Pesticides we use in and around the home also release various chemical and semi-volatile compounds.
Harmful effects Carbon monoxide causes headache, dizziness and fatigue. These often cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Fine particles are produced during all kinds of combustion which lead to acute and chronic effects to respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Pet dander and hair, carpet, rugs, upholstery furniture are main source of dust mites, fungus, and bacteria. A dirty filter of air conditioners acts as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, other tobacco products and mosquito coil emits VOC’s and formaldehyde and various particulate matters. CO2 released from our lungs is exhaled in the air which pollutes the air if the place is too crowded or there is less ventilation.
Harmful effects All these can trigger coughing, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, dry mouth, vomiting, digestive tract problems, depression, allergy and asthma attacks, and other respiratory illness.
Shower, faucets and other water sources are main cause of humidity and mold. Bathroom cleaners and personal care products like toothpaste, soaps, facial tissues, detergent, fabric softeners, air fresheners, deodorizers, hair sprays, disinfectants, are full of VOC’s and chemicals which emits harmful pollutants.
Harmful effects Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory ailments. VOC’s and toxic chemicals released in the bathroom can causes eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and respiratory problems. All these products release harmful pollutants while they are used also when they are stored.
A bedroom contains many sources of indoor air pollution. Mattress, pillow and blankets, soft toys, are the reservoirs of dust mites, fungi and bacteria. Furniture, carpets, paints and beauty product like hairspray, nail polishes, perfumes, deodorants etc off gas VOC, formaldehyde and toxic gases into the air.
Harmful effects These pollutants make the air unhealthy which leads to allergy, asthma attacks, dizziness, headache, fatigue and other respiratory ailments.
Second-hand smoke Second hand Smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Passive smoking can lead to coughing, excess phlegm, and chest discomfort. NCI (National Cancer Institute) also notes that spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), cervical cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, nasal sinus cancer, decreased lung function, exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, and negative cognitive and behavioral effects in children have been linked to ETS. Secondhand smoke exposure commonly occurs indoors, particularly in homes and cars. Secondhand smoke can move between rooms of a home and between apartment units.
Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices The air filter in your HVAC system is the front line of defense against poor indoor air quality. A typical central heating and cooling system circulates over 1,000 cubic feet per minute of air through the filter. This means the entire air volume in your house passes through the filter multiple times every day. A dirty filter, however, can actually make indoor air quality worse by acting as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. In addition to driving up your utility bill, a clogged air filter will allow all that dust and debris that should be filtered out to be re-circulated back into your home. This can cause chronic allergies and especially be dangerous for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.