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5 Apr 2019

Doll containing toxic chemical found on sale at Smyths Toys

Which? tests discover chemical that's banned by the EU for use in children's toys

A Which? investigation has discovered a doll containing a toxic chemical banned by the EU on sale at Smyths Toys.

The Cry Babies Nala doll costs £24.99 and is recommended on the Smyths Toys website as suitable for children from 18 months.

The sample of the doll we tested contained phthalates at 25% above the legal limit.

Phthalates are banned for use in children's toys by the EU at levels above 0.1% of its total weight.

Cry Babies Nala Doll

We took our findings to IMC Toys, manufacturer of the Cry Babies Nala doll which is on sale worldwide.

A spokesperson from IMC Toys said: 'Children's safety is of the utmost importance to IMC and we conduct rigorous and thorough testing of all of our products supplied globally.

'We sold 1.3 million Cry Babies in the past year and have never encountered issues with any of our dolls. We have exacting safety standards, testing to the highest levels.

'As a result of the potential non-conformity detected and the phthalates level indicated in the Which? report we will voluntarily and purely as a precautionary measure conduct an immediately preventive product recall of the serial number in question of the Nala dolls held by Smyths to eradicate the possibility of a phthalates problem.

'We would like to stress that the non-conformity detected and the phthalates level indicated in the report does not offer an immediate risk for the children's health in the normal use of the toy.'

What to do if you've bought this doll from Smyths Toys

A spokesperson from Smyths Toys said: 'As a precaution, we have taken all of these dolls off our shelves and they will not be on sale in any way.

'Customers who return any Nala dolls they have bought from us to a Smyths Toys store will receive a refund.'

The Cry Babies Nala we bought and tested was from Smyths Toys and had the batch number 18/10657/39-1.

The same doll is on sale at a wide range of other online and high street retailers.

Why are phthalates restricted in toys?

Tests on mice have shown that repeated exposure to phthalates over time can be harmful.

Scientific studies have shown links between phthalates and toxic effects on the reproductive system, liver and thyroid, as well as developmental issues and respiratory problems such as asthma.

What are phthalates?

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used as plasticisers to soften plastic and reduce brittleness.

They can be found in a huge number of products that contain flexible plastics, for example PVC flooring, food packaging and personal care products such as nail polish, soaps and perfumes. Evidence has shown that phthalates can leach out of products.

The EU has banned phthalates in toys in a concentration above 0.1% of the total plastic weight.

Children are considered to be a high-risk group because they have a tendency to put products into their mouth.

The tip of the iceberg?

About 170 dolls have been recalled across the UK and the rest of Europe for exceeding the phthalate limit set by the EU since January of 2018.

We tested a total of 20 dolls from a range of online and high street retailers, including the Early Learning Centre, Hamleys, John Lewis, Argos, Amazon and eBay.

Below you can see a list of the 19 dolls we tested that didn't contain any chemicals above the restricted limits.

Dolls that passed our phthalate test

More danger for children

This isn't the first time we've found children's products containing dangerous levels of chemicals.

In December 2018 we tested 13 toy slimes and putties. More than 40% exceeded the EU safety limit of boron.

We also found illegal child car seats on sale on eBay, as well as stair gates and cot mattresses that demonstrated serious safety failures.

Watch our site for any recalls and visit our product safety hub for tools, tips and advice to protect you, your loved ones and your home.

Make sure to also sign our petition to demand action on dangerous and unsafe products.