Hazardous puzzle: Rubic's Cube inherits toxics from e-scrap plastics

Global: Almost 90% of the samples of children's toys recently tested for toxic substances in 26 different countries were found to include octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE) or decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE). So reports INEP, a group advocating the banning of dangerous chemicals in consumer products.

‘Recycling plastics containing toxic flame retardant chemicals found in electronic waste results in contamination of new plastic children’s toys and related products,’ INEP insists.

It urges that recycling toxic materials not only risks human and environmental exposure, it also ‘undermines the credibility of recycling’. A batch of Rubic’s cubes was subjected to laboratory testing as the popular puzzle toy is often made from recycled plastics.

Tests found that 43 samples (39%) contained OctaBDE at levels greater than 50 ppm – one of the proposed hazardous waste limits. One sample exceeded the higher proposed limit of 1000 ppm. In the case of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), 7 samples (7%) contained concentrations higher than 100 ppm – one of the proposed hazardous waste limits.

Two samples exceeded the higher proposed level of 1000 ppm. Finally, 48 samples (43%) contained DecaBDE at levels that exceeded the current hazardous waste limit for PCBs, ‘which they strongly resemble in structure and adverse effects’, INEP says.

‘The results indicate that toxic flame retardant chemicals found in e-waste are widely present in children’s toys made of recycled plastic,’ it notes. This proves how important it is to have protective hazardous waste limits ‘since weak standards could encourage toxic recycling and waste dumping in the absence of national regulations prohibiting the practices’.


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