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Zhu Zhu Pets Go Go Hamsters and Toy Safety At Christmas

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Mr Squiggles Go Go HamsterIf there are two words that should surely not lay in close proximity to each other, "toxic" and "toys" are they. Yet headlines including the words "toxic toys" have been everywhere for the past few weeks triggered by an independent investigation in the US that claimed to have found high levels of the toxic metal antimony in not just any toy, but the Mr Squiggles version of the Zhu Zhu Pets Go Go Hamster toy, set to become the biggest selling Christmas toy ever with some stores having already sold out weeks ago in the US, UK and other countries.

The consumer watch group GoodGuide tested the Mr Squiggles version of the cute little Go Go Hamster toy and found antimony at levels of 93ppm (parts per million) in its fur and 103ppm in its nose. In the US the Federal legal limit for antimony is 60ppm.

Co-founder of GoodGuide and associate professor of environmental science at the University of California in Berkeley, Dara O'Rourke, tested Zhu Zhu Pets for chemicals with his group, and reported that they have elevated levels of tin and antimony. He said: "If ingested in high enough levels [antimony] can lead to cancer, reproductive health, and other human health hazards".

An early sign of antimony exposure that occurs with contact exposure is an itchy skin rash known as 'antimony spots'.

Zhu Zhu Pets are made in China, but the company, Cepia LLC, is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Chief Executive Russ Hornsby said in a statement:  "We want to assure everyone already enjoying Mr Squiggles or other Zhu Zhu Pets, and those planning to purchase Mr Squiggles or another Zhu Zhu Pet this holiday season, that the toy is 100% safe and in compliance with all US and European toy safety standards." The company has supplied GoodGuide with their own testing data.

A reader of this story on the subject comments: "Apparently the "Good Guide" people can't even read the standards. They are confusing content with migration. What's important is the amount of antimony that can come out of the toy, not the amount that is in it."

Now I am yet to be a father but it hasn't escaped my attention that children are AlWAYS licking and chewing on their toys. Surely then, if there is significant antimony in a toy then kids will find a way to get at it and ingest it.

Dara O'Rourke of GoodGuide agrees, saying "The biggest danger is from a toddler or young child putting the toy in their mouth. If too much of the chemical is ingested it could lead to cancer or other health problems."

The argument for me is not over how much of a toxic substance such as antimony should be permitted in toys but if these substances should be allowed at all. I for one say not and I am sure most parents reading would agree!

Zhu Zhu Pets are not the only toys to be a source of potential danger either. Some children's toys carrying the Barbie and Disney logos have reportedly been found with high levels of lead in them, according to The Center for Environmental Health, a California-based consumer advocacy group. They tested about 250 children's products bought at major retailers and found lead levels that exceeded federal limits in seven of them. Lead is another toxic metal which has particularly detrimental effects on the brain and nervous system, therefore having the potential to cause developmental disorders in exposed children. Higher blood lead levels have also been associated with higher rates of depression and panic disorders in young adults.

Among those with high lead levels include the Disney Tinkerbell Water Lily necklace; Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Set; Dora the Explorer Activity Tote; TKS girl's sandals from Sears; Walmart kids poncho; Walmart Faded Glory girl's shoes; and Cherokee boys belt.

Parents wishing to check the toxicity of toys before purchasing them for their children this Christmas may wish to take a look at www.HealthyStuff.org , the website of an organisation that researchers levels of toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

So although strictly regulations on toys, particularly on inports from China, there is clearly still a problem with toxic toys. Parents should be aware of this and use resources such as HealthyStuff.org to make sure they are protecting their children as best as they can.

Best wishes for a happy and toxin-free Christmas for all the family from The Environmental Illness Resource!


Zhu Zhu Pets Go Go Hamsters and Toy Safety At ChristmasDynamic Neural Retraining Program (DNRS)


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People in this conversation

  • Yes, I learnt so much last year. Like sometimes you have to let go of the one you love, just to see if they love you enough to come back (even if you are two stone heavier) and true friends are what keep you going through the tough times. Good luck with the studying, looks like the big thaw might be starting fingers crossed.
    I'll be back, my Armour has now run out so I am trying other things, will keep you posted, live well Denise.

    Comment last edited on about 9 years ago by Maff
  • Great to hear things are going well and you're so positive about the year ahead Denise! I hope you'll continue to visit us here and share some of your positivity ;)

    I'm hoping 2010 is the year I achieve something I didn't think would happen. Graduating from university. It's just a blur of hard work at the moment but I'm pushing through!

    It's cold alright - and my car has been stuck in the snow for a week in the car park outside my home!

    Comment last edited on about 9 years ago by Maff
  • Hi Matt, the weather may be cold but I'm feel warm inside, the sun is mostly shinning in my world. I am so much better this year than last year, I have rekindled my relationship and it's going pretty well so far. The new bed has been christened and feels very warm and safe thank you, happier times ahead I think for 2010. Denise.

  • Hi Denise,

    I would have written this blog earlier if someone hadn't given me an early Christmas present and hacked the site 10 days ago! I hope enough parents still had shopping to do when I published it before the weekend so they thought a bit more about what they were buying for their kids.

    And you're absolutely right, it's not just toys but all consumer goods. I hope you have a safe (and warm) bed now :)

    Comment last edited on about 9 years ago by Maff
  • Hi Maff,

    It's a scary world we live in, with my first grandchild due in March I can only say thanks for making us aware, but it's not just toys it's everything, my recent new bed fiasco is a case in point! Denise

    Comment last edited on about 9 years ago by Maff

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