Toxic chemical concerns over ‘squishie’ soft toys

NOT SO CUTE INSIDE: Lurking within this ninja fox squishie toy may be harmful chemicals.
NOT SO CUTE INSIDE: Lurking within this ninja fox squishie toy may be harmful chemicals.

NSW Fair Trading is not investigating concerns over potentially dangerous chemicals in the popular kids’ toys known as squishies.

Consumer regulators in South Australia and Western Australia are testing the squishies to see if they are safe, after Denmark’s Environment Protection Authority concluded they contained toxic chemicals.

But NSW Fair Trading said it “has not received any complaints about the squishies children’s toy giving off a chemical smell”.

Denmark’s EPA found 12 out of the 12 toys it tested contained “high levels of harmful chemicals” including toluene, styrene and dimethylformamide.

CUTE APPEAL: Squishies on sale a Wollongong shopping centre on Thursday.

CUTE APPEAL: Squishies on sale a Wollongong shopping centre on Thursday.

“The results show that all 12 squishies emit chemical substances at such high concentrations that some substances put children at high risk, for example if they sleep with their squishies or have several of them in their bedroom,” Denmark’s Ministry of Environment said.

Meanwhile, the toys continue to be sold in many Wollongong shopping centres.

NSW Fair Trading said it would wait and see how the SA and WA tests played out.

“Fair Trading is closely monitoring the testing of this toy by the consumer regulators in SA and WA, which is being conducted in consultation with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,” a spokeswoman said. “The results of the testing will be circulated by the ACCC and will determine the NSW Fair Trading response.”

Parents have been advised to make sure play areas are well ventilated if children are playing with squishies, and not to accumulate a large number of them in one place. Under these conditions they would be safe, University of Adelaide toxicologist Dr Ian Musgrave said.

Dimethylformamide is an industrial solvent which has been found to damage the liver and digestive system, and has an amine smell.

Toluene is another solvent. Symptoms of acute exposure include dizziness, headaches and nausea.

Styrene is a suspected, but not proven, carcinogen which can produce eye irritation, headaches and fatigue after long-term exposure.