Qatar to introduce toy lead-level test

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Dubai, Sep 21 (UNI) Qatar has decided to use a US-made device to detect levels of hazardous substances in toys after several million Chinese toys were recalled from the market since early August.

The announcement by the Authority for Standards and Specifications follows an earlier decision to set up the first laboratory for testing the safety of toys and other imported products, due to the growing international concern over a number of China-made products, Gulf news reported.

Authority Director Mohammad Bin Saif Al Kuwari said the instrument would allow shopkeepers to conduct free tests.

At present, shopkeepers have to send toys to Dubai, which has one of the region's certified laboratories and charges as much as 1,500 Qatari riyals for a sample test.

''The device to be introduced within a month will test toys in Qatar for free. The process will be less time-consuming,'' Gulf news quoted Al Kuwari as saying.

The shops have been asked to display certificates of laboratory tests as well as consult the Authority before signing deals for import of toys.

Last month, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture and the Authority decided to ban import and distribution of a number of Chinese toys for the violation of the lead paint standards.

More than 21 million Chinese toys have been recalled by Mattel and US toy producers.

The recalled toys included two models of Fisher-Price's Bongo Band toys, its Geo Trax Locomotive toys, and various Barbie accessory sets by Mattel. Polly Pocket, Batman Magna and Doggie Daycare Play sets, and Shonen Jump's One Piece were also recalled for containing a magnet that could be hazardous if swallowed by children.

Lead poisoning in children could cause behavioural problems, learning disabilities and hearing problems.

According to reports published in local media, about 90 per cent Qatar's toy market is dominated by China-made products.

China accounts for 60 per cent of the world's toy distribution.

An official at the Customs Authority said in a public meeting on Tuesday that the Customs would not clear shipment of toys unless they are compatible with the required safety standards.

UNI

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