We generally take toys for granted but this may no longer be the case atleast not if we are concerned about the health of our young children.
A recent laboratory study by the Centre for Science and Environment shows the presence of phthalates, a highly toxic chemical, in toys sold in the Indian market. These toxic chemicals are not regulated or monitored by the government, putting children at risk. Scientific evidence has shown that exposure to phthalates can cause a variety of health problems ranging from asthma to pre term birth. It is for this reason that US and European Union regulate the use of these substances in toys.
Inspite of these concerns phthalates are nowhere on the radar of Indian authorities, they have made a few attempts to regulate other safety aspects of toys like mechanical and chemical properties and presence of certain heavy metals. Domestically, these standards remain voluntary. But since January last year, the authorities, mostly under pressure from a vigilant judiciary, have tried to regulate the quality of toys being imported. It is mandatory for imported toys to meet the above mentioned standards.
But the government is on a sticky wicket here. While making it mandatory for imports to conform to standards, it does not ask of its own industry to meet the same. This is clearly a non-tariff barrier to trade. India is fortunate no one has complained till now.
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