A mom’s warning on Facebook urging parents to stop buying the popular soft foam toys or “squishies” has gone viral, prompting questions over safety.
In a post that that has now been shared more than 298,000 on Facebook with 79,000 comments, Elaine Lee said her daughter recently collected multiple squishy toys for Christmas.
“Within a day of acquiring them she started having nightmares and disrupted sleep. On the 4th day she started having what I believe were hallucinations or delusions.” Lee wrote on Facebook.
In the post, Lee connects her daughter’s behavior to the collection of squishies, which she said the 8-year-old carried around with her and played with before bed, and references a report from Denmark calling for a ban of the toys:
“At first we didn't connect this situation to the squishy toys. I mean, sure they smelled weird but they seemed pretty harmless. Well, turns out they're not at all harmless - in fact, Denmark's EPA tested 12 of these toys and found all 12 of them to contain dimethylformamide, styrene, and toluene - toxic substances that cause cancer, disrupt hormones, impair fertility and cause liver damage. (See this article: https://en.mfvm.dk/…/popular-toy-full-of-dangerous-chemica…/). These toys are now banned in Denmark. (UPDATED 1/9/19 TO ADD: According to another source the toys may not have been banned after all. I'm in the process of verifying this.)”
Lee later edited to post to add that her daughter has sensitivities to dyes and that the color in the toys could have played a factor in her reaction to them.
To verify, the 11Alive team found a June report was indeed posted by the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark indicating the Danish EPA called for a removal of the ‘so-called squishes” after testing 12 toys and finding 12 out of 12 contained “high levels of harmful chemicals.” According to the report, testing was initiated “because squishies often smell scented and of chemicals.” The report does not indicate which toy brands were tested, but indicated the chemicals included dimethylformamide, styrene and toluene.
The Toy Industries of Europe disputed the Danish EPA’s results over flawed testing in a response released in August. 11Alive reached out to the Danish EPA for further comment to see if the ban was implemented but has not received confirmation the toys were pulled from the Danish market.
To verify whether such concerns have been investigated in the U.S., 11Alive reached out to both the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which oversees toy recalls, to address the concerns over squishies. Due to the partial government shutdown, both offices are closed as of 1/12/19.
However, a spokesperson for the Toy Association, a not-for-profit trade association representing businesses that make and deliver toys, said such reports have “created needless concern” and echoed the Toy Industries of Europe, calling the testing flawed.
“All squishy toys sold in the U.S. must meet highly protective federal requirements and limit values for certain chemicals in toys,” Adrienne Appell said in a statement. “Rest assured that squishy toys sold at reputable retailers are safe. Keeping children safe when they are playing with toys always has been, and always will be, the toy industry’s top priority.”
The Toy Association’s full statement:
All squishy toys sold in the U.S. must meet highly protective federal requirements and limit values for certain chemicals in toys. Rest assured that squishy toys sold at reputable retailers are safe.
Some reports from Europe have created needless concern regarding the chemical content of these toys. These allegations are based on flawed testing methods and unrealistic exposure scenarios, and have been rejected by EU regulators.
U.S. toy safety standards are among the strictest in the world. All toys sold in this country must comply with 100+ stringent toy safety regulations, tests, and requirements designed to protect children at play, including the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Among other protections, these regulations make it illegal to sell toys or children’s products containing substances harmful to children and to which they might be exposed.
Keeping children safe when they are playing with toys always has been, and always will be, the toy industry’s top priority.
11Alive also reached out to both Target and Walmart, where Lee said the squishies were purchased, for comment.
QUESTION: Did Denmark ban the popular squishies toys over concern of dangerous chemicals?
ANSWER: We can VERIFY Denmark’s Environmental Protection Agency released a report calling for a ban of the toys after testing by the agency. According to Danish officials, several squishie toy distributors already recalled their products and another has closed its business.
"Based on these informations the EPA has closed the case with no further action," officials said.
Due to the government shutdown, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency could not be reached regarding safety concerns. The Toy Association disputes claims the toys present any danger.