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Some squishies found to emit harmful levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) 2019-04-12

Some squishies found to emit harmful levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)



    The EU(Denmark) has recently recalled children’s toys, the so-called ‘squishies,*’after tests found they emitted harmful chemicals causing health problems.

    *Squishies: are soft and easily crushed or shaped children’s toys similar in texture to sponge. They come in the shape of bread, ice-cream cones, fruits, animals, etc.



    Accordingly, the Korea Consumer Agency (President Lee, Hee-sook) tested 12 products circulated and sold in the domestic market, and investigated their labelling, and found that some of the products tested emitted dimethylformamide(DMF), toxic to liver, causing symptoms such as mucous membrane irritation, dizziness, etc., thereby prompting consumers’ extra attention .


[Squishy Toy]




 Some squishies were found to emit harmful levels of dimethylformamide(DMF). 

    The testing of 12 squishies revealed that all of the squishies tested emitted DMF, and the concentrations of DMF reached 54/to 16,137/per hour.


    Dimethylformamide: is a sort of volatile organic compounds(VOCs), and exposure to dimethylformamide has been found to cause liver damage. Symptoms in humans exposed to dimethylformamide include nose, throat, eyes and skin irritation, dizziness, sleep disorder, blurred vision, facial flushing, vomiting, etc.


    The result of the risk assessment* of the emitted DMF showed that the emission rates of DMF of six(6)(50.0%) products could have negative health impacts on children aged less than three years old, and two(2) of them could pose health risks even to children aged 6 to 12 years old, if they are exposed to multiple squishy toys.

    * Risk characterisation ratio(RCR), one of the risk assessment methodologies, is calculated by dividing the exposure estimate by age by the derived no-effect level(DNEL; the level of exposure to the substance above which humans should not be exposed). When the RCR exceeds the value of 1, this implies a toxicological concern for the exposure.




[ Result of Risk Assessment of Squishies Emitting Dimethylformamide ]

Product Name


Emission Rates of Dimethylformamide (/)


Risk Characterisation Ratio(RCR)


Less than 3 years old

[RCR >1 : unacceptable risk]

Milk Bread*

With Me



Pet Squishy Packed Lunch**





Suave Squishy(white pan bread)








Cat Burger

Mijung Art



Pomegranate Squishy




 * In case of children(6-12 years old)’s exposure to 7 squishies, RCR exceeded 1, **in case of children(6-12 years old)’s exposure to 14 squishies, RCR exceeded 1


    Currently, however, there is no standard for VOCs emission limits in children’s toys (e.g. squishies), and thus, it needs to prepare safety standards for toy materials, purpose of use, age for use, etc.



  Many toys for children did not meet the labelling requirements.

    All children’s toys must be affixed with appropriate labels (including ‘KC certification mark’) which bear information such as product name, model name, manufacturing date, minimum age for use, etc. on their packaging.


    With regard to the labelling requirements, it was found that the KC mark was affixed to all of the squishy toys tested, but 10(83.3%) products did not indicate some of the required information on their labels, requiring improvement.



  KCA recommended corrective actions for risk-concerned products, and will request improvements in safety standards.


    Based on the results of the test and inspection, the KCA recommended the business operators that sold products presenting risks of injury to children to voluntarily take corrective measures, including sales suspension and product recall, and the business operators in question accepted the recommendation, deciding to recall their products.


    In addition, the KCA plans to request the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards to establish standards for VOCs emission limits, depending on toy material, purpose of use, and age for use.


    Furthermore, the KCA advised consumers to avoid buying squishies smelling scented, and to keep squishy toys out of the reach of children, aged less than three(3) years, in particular.


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