Fake loom toys may carry cancer risk
Popular craze taking hold of SA’s children may contain carcinogenic chemical.
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Image: via Amazon

In almost every school the looming craze has been taking hold of SA’s children. Kids weave the tiny flexible bands together to create bracelets and other creations, but an SA researcher is examining the possibility that that fake loom-related products may contain high levels of phthalates, a carcinogenic chemical, according to TimesLive.

International studies provoke local jitters

A recent study conducted in the UK found that while genuine Rainbow Loom products had acceptable levels of the chemical, some counterfeit ones contained massive levels of the chemical which is used to introduce elasticity to the product.

The researcher said that in the US products were only allowed to carry less than 0.1% phthalates, but that in knock-offs sometimes up to 50% of their weight (500 times the legal limit in the US) was made up of phthalates. He warned that the chemical can be absorbed if the child chews the toy. A cumulative effect from this exposure could lead to illness, including cancer.

Other risks

The demand for the product is so high that parents are scouring every shop in their vicinity searching for Rainbow Looms; many stores are sold out of the genuine product.

Cheaper copies are available in smaller stores, tempting these parents and kids to buy them. The children often swap these at school or sell the finished jewellery at school functions and market days.

The UK has also warned of choking risks and also the risk that the elasticated product may be placed on fingers leading to circulation being cut off. The Daily Mail also reported that a boy was temporarily blinded after a band struck him in the eye.

Animal activists have also declared the toy unsafe, suggesting that animals may ingest the bands.

Being a craze, it’s likely that the Rainbow Loom frenzy may blow over soon, but it may be wiser to ensure that you are obtaining your Rainbow Looms from an official supplier, and that your child doesn’t buy fake products or swap them in the playground until the studies into the presence of the chemical have offered more concrete evidence that there’s a risk.

If your kids are loom-crazy, there are loads of project ideas on Pinterest. Why not take a look? Whole families are getting involved with this fun activity.

From the Parent24 Facebook page:

Sharlene: How would we determine the fake from the original?

Marinda: Look out for CE on the packaging which means it has been tested according to European safety standards.

22/08 CORRECTION: Although the local researcher is collecting all products associated to looms according to TimesLive, the international studies conducted at the Assay laboratory in Birmingham, UK, found the chemicals in the charms which come in loom packs only according to the Independent Irish News. The US guidelines restricting phtalates were also incorrectly stated as 0.01% instead of 0.1%. We apologise for any inconsistencies which may have occurred during editing.

There have been no reported incidents of injury or health problems relating to loom products locally.

Do your kids play with looms?

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