Children can't get enough of them, but parents may have a good reason to keep their kids away from the popular loom band “charms,” which can be attached to the bracelets they make at home: they’ve been found to contain high levels of phthalates, which are cancer-causing chemicals.
The Birmingham Assay Office recently conducted a test of 16 loom charms and found that all of the plastic accessories, which are manufactured in Asia, contained dangerous levels of phthalates -- more than the 0.1 percent by weight that is the legal limit in the United Kingdom, reports Daily Mail. Of the 16 charms tested, two were found to contain more than 50 percent of the known carcinogen.
“It’s not to say every packet of loom bands out there is affected but there are plenty of products on the market that could be dangerous,” said Marion Wilson of the Birmingham Assay Office.
Phthalates are found in textiles, coated leather, and in PVC products. If they make contact with sweat or saliva, they can enter the body. Health officials worry that children will put the small artificial charms into their mouths.
Because of the Rainbow Loom band craze, which is popular with children all over the world, the market has reportedly become saturated with counterfeit loom band kits, which don’t always meet health regulation requirements.
Robert Chantry-Price, a lead officer for product safety at the Trading Standards Institute, cautions parents to only purchase Loom bands and accessories through reputable establishments and to make sure they keep them out of their mouths, reports The Telegraph.
“…kids make these loom bands into bracelets and wear them for long periods so often there is direct skin contact 24 hours a day for several weeks,” Chantry-Price said. “Children’s skin also absorbs toxins more easily than adults. Phthalates are carcinogenic, mutagenic and cause reproductive problems.”
Trading Standards has urged loom band importers and retailers to send all questionable loom products to them for testing before putting them on shelves.