17-18 December 2012, Yerevan, Armenia
The project “Toxic Metals in Children’s Products” started on September 2012 in the six countries of the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) with participation of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), “Eco-Accord” NGO, Global Green Grants Foundation (GGF), and GRID – Arendal.
As part of the project from November 27 to December 9 large-scale testing was conducted on six toxic elements (lead, mercury, cadmium, antimony, arsenic, chromium) in products for children, purchased randomly in shops and markets of Moscow, Volgograd, Sochi, Kolomna, Minsk, Yerevan, Almaty, Bishkek and Kiev.
The test results give a reason for concern: out of 569 products 164 samples (29%) contained at least one toxic metal of the six identified.
The toy testing in Armenia performed by the IPEN expert Joseph DiGangi by the help of an X-ray fluorescence analyzer showed that out of 68 toys purchased in Yerevan approximately 20% of the toys contained at least one toxic metal above levels of concern and the most common problem was lead. The regulatory limit for lead in soil that children walk on is 32 ppm but lead levels in toys that children place in their mouth ranged from 32 ppm – 12,140 ppm – more than 350 times the limit. Most of the toys containing toxic metals were manufactured in China.
On December 17-18, 2012 at the Hotel Congress in Yerevan was held an International Conference on “Heavy metals in child toys. National and regional policy issues on chemical security in products designed for children” with participation of NGOs from Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. The conference was organized by the “Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment” non-governmental organization within the framework of the “Toxics Free Child Toys” project funded by the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), Global Green Grants Foundation (GGF), “Eco-Accord” NGO, GRID – Arendal and UNDP / GEF Small Grants Program.
Prior to the conference on the 12th of December 2012, at 12:00 at the press club “Hayeli“ (Mirror) the “Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment” (AWHHE) NGO gave a press conference on Toxic Metals in Products Designed for Children. The event was attended by ten representatives of mass media.
The purpose of the international conference was to attract the attention of all stakeholders, including NGOs, government, toy manufacturers and consumers to the problem of toy safety and to develop recommendations for the government, manufacturers on the improvement of the National legislation, production and sale of child toxics free products. Among the attendants were 50 representatives from the Ministries of Health, Nature Protection, and Economy, the Armenian offices of the international organizations WHO, UNICEF, UNIDO, the project implementing NGOs, local NGOs and representatives from seven mass media companies.
As toxic metals defined in this study are dangerous to human health, the governments of the countries of the EECCA region should adopt stricter standards for regulation of overall concentration of toxic metals in products for children and to strengthen control over the implementation of the standards and their enforcement, which will protect national markets from influx of goods, rejected in the EU and in other countries with more progressive legislation and standards.
The conference was concluded by the discussion and approval of the recommendations for governments, manufacturers and consumers.
Below are the links to the media, who have actively highlighted the works of the conference.
An article on toy safety has also been published in the “Delovoy Express” weekly newspaper.