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Zhu Zhu Pets, Other Xmas Toys Pose Health Risks


If your children are begging for a Zhu Zhu pet for Christmas, you may need to find a reason why Santa could not deliver it this year. According to the consumer group Good Guide, the popular Xmas toy poses health risks.

The makers of Zhu Zhu pets, including Mr. Squiggles, state that all their Zhu Zhu toys “are safe and compliant with all US and European standards for consumer health and safety in toys,” said Russ Hornsby, CEO of Cepia LLC, in a press release sent out on December 5.

Parents need to be constantly vigilant when it comes to choosing toys for their children, as lead, bisphenol A (BPA), arsenic, and other toxins have been found in a wide variety of toys and school items for children. Now parents are being warned about the Zhu Zhu pet Mr. Squiggles, which has a high level of a chemical called antimony as well as tin.

According to Good Guide, Zhu Zhu hamsters contain 93 parts per million of antimony in the fur and about 103 in the nose. The federal limit for the migration of antimony from toys is 60 parts per million. Children risk ingesting the antimony when they touch the toy and then put the hand that touched the hamster into their mouth, or if they put the toy directly into their mouth.

Depending on the amount of antimony ingested, it has been associated with possible cancer, lung and heart problems, and effects on fertility. Tin can harm the nervous system, especially the developing brain, and the immune system. No standards for the migration of tin from toys has been determined.

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Good Guide is also warning parents about some other toys that could be on their Xmas list. One is the Lego Brick & More System Ultimate Building Set, which contains PVC (polyvinylchloride). PVC is a common plastic that can contain several hazardous chemicals. Phthalates are added to PVC, as are lead and cadmium, all of which can leach out of the toy. Good Guide did not find dangerous levels of these chemicals in the Lego toy, however.

Products that have chlorine levels greater than 10,000 ppm are probably made mainly of PVC. Chlorine content is measured as a proxy for the presence of PVC.

The Disney Just One Kiss Princess Tiana Doll also has high levels of PVC and tin, and low levels of bromine. Bromine is commonly found in a family of flame retardant chemicals. There is no toy industry standard for use of bromine nor a migration standard. The chemical may have an impact on thyroid function and the developing brain.

Mattel Mindflex Mental Game has been found to have high levels of PVC and tin, and low levels of arsenic and bromine. Arsenic exposure is associated with lung, skin, and bladder cancer. The migration standard for toys is 25 ppm. International Playthings My First Purse in Purple has high levels of PVC, tin, and antimony.

The bottom line is, parents and other toy buyers need to be cautious when buying toys for their children. Zhu Zhu pets are not the first popular toy to be considered a health hazard, and unfortunately it will not be the last. Before hopping in the car or on the Internet to do Xmas toy shopping, parents should check for the latest recalls and safety reports on toys on web sites such as Good Guide (www.goodguide.com), HealthyStuff (www.healthystuff.org), and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov).

Consumer Product Safety Commission
Good Guide website
HealthyStuff website