India’s health ministry has said that several Chinese toys being sold in the local market are highly toxic as they contain high levels of heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, and were, therefore, harmful to children, according to a report in Indian daily, The Times of India.
The country’s toy market is dominated by branded products by Mattel and other international vendors, and a large number of toys made by Chinese companies. The Indian middle class and lower middle class overwhelmingly patronize Chinese toys that are cheaper.
In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, the country’s upper house of Parliament, the minister said that “according to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), NGO Toxics Link had conducted a study in 2006 which examined toys from Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, and reported high levels of cadmium and lead in PVC used in soft toys.”
The minister said that most of the toys in Chennai and Mumbai were being imported from China. Lead is a known neuro and hamatological toxin which can lead to delayed development and lower IQ in children, the Times of India reported.
The Bureau of Indian Standards has published three standards regarding safety of toys, according to the minister. But these are only voluntary, according to TV channel IBN Live
India has been slow in introducing legislation relating to environment and toxicity issues such as e-waste management. Its gargantuan bureaucracy and corruption at all levels of government ensure that even if there is legislation, monitoring adherence will be lukewarm.
At traffic stops in some of the key cities in the country, hawkers flagrantly sell toys and other goods of Chinese origin. Toy shops in the country also sell a large number of toys said to be of Chinese origin.