By PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 5 Oct 2010
LOCAL manufacturers and establishments selling toys and similar game products should ensure warning messages have been placed on the products about the age restrictions of using them, said Dubai Municipality (DM).
Redha Salman, director of the Public Health and Safety Department at DM, said that the age group for each toy should be mentioned prominently on such products, whether they are manufactured locally or imported from foreign countries.
He called on parents, educators, teachers and vendors to ensure that the toys are selected after considering whether they are appropriate for their child's age. "When it comes to purchasing toys for babies, parents should ascertain the reliability and safety of the game products in order to protect children from fatal hazards or long-lasting damage," warned Salman.
"Small parts of some toys expose children below three years to the risks of suffocation, if the toy contained parts that can be removed easily by hand," he said.
"Many toys can be split into small pieces and be easily swallowed by babies, who may also munch or try to eat parts like eyes, which can be separated from many dolls available in the local market," he said.
"Even though toys have a significant role in the growth of children's mental and physical abilities, it is known that the children of lower age have the habit of putting things in their mouths," he remarked.
"Children under the age of 10 get some toys from groceries with manufactured cheap and hazardous plastic parts that are often misused, and may lead to lasting injuries to the kids," pointed out Salman.
He elaborated, "Usage of high concentrations of heavy metals and chemicals in the manufacture of some of the toys affects the health and safety of children negatively, such as a negative impact on the heart, bones, digestive system and nervous system."
"These symptoms will be visible through the children's abnormal behavior and learning difficulties," he added.
"Knitted and stuffed toys look beautiful and attractive to children externally, but [can pose] health risks for them if there is a hole in the stitching or in case the sewing is weak."
"It allows the emergence of the internal filling material and it becomes easy to access them, which may cause a risk of suffocation as a result of inhalation or swallowing of the material," said Salman.
According to him, the parents and children's supervisors are responsible to choose appropriate toys for their kids to keep them safe from the risks involved with hazardous or terrible toys.
Introducing a number of hazardous materials that may enter in the manufacture of toys, the DM on Sunday has launched a health safety drive titled "My Safety in My Toy."
The campaign, which started at Children's City on Sunday, will run until Oct 12, educating the public on the precautions to be taken while purchasing toys for their children.
According to Salman, the civic body monitors all sorts of toys that enter the market of the emirate.
"The DM implements strict control over the toys that are showcased in the local markets. All the imported items related to children in the context of consumer protection undergo intense inspection procedures by the civic officials, in addition to laboratory tests carried out at the toys lab of the Dubai central laboratory," he noted.
(Pic by Nisham A. Manaf)