Research: Secondhand Toys Pose Health Risks to Children

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. preloved / priˈlʌvd / (adj) – referring to something owned by someone else before

    I do not mind buying preloved designer bags as long as they are still in good condition.

  2. perilous / ˈpɛr ə ləs / (adj) – leading to danger

    Exposure to chemicals is perilous; it can lead to death.

  3. think twice / θɪŋk twaɪs / (idiom) – to carefully think about an action before doing it

    Parents should always think twice before deciding to punish their children.

  4. degradation / ˌdɛg rəˈdeɪ ʃən / (n) – the state of becoming damaged

    Metals change in color because of degradation.

  5. recall / rɪˈkɔl / (n) – a formal instruction to return a product

    Health officials have released a memo for the recall of expired medicines.


Read the text below.

Secondhand toys can be detrimental to children’s health, research reveals.

Researchers from the University of Plymouth / ˈplɪm əθ / examined 200 preloved plastic toys in homes, pre-schools, and thrift shops in England. The examination revealed that these toys were made of materials that do not pass the regulations imposed by EU’s Toy Safety Directive. The toys were also small enough to be chewed by children.

Based on the findings, 20 toys had high concentrations of perilous elements like barium, lead, bromine, cadmium, chromium, and selenium.  These elements were found to be most prevalent in plastic figures, puzzles, and jewelry. Experts say that prolonged exposure to even low doses of these elements can be fatal. On another note, toys like balls, marbles, yo-yos, and model cars had lower concentrations of the elements.

According to researcher Dr. Andrew Turner, infants are more at risk of being exposed to chemicals because they usually tend to put objects like toys in their mouths. In addition, young children’s high metabolism rate, faster biological growth, and longer time span to develop diseases make them more prone to experiencing the chemicals’ negative effects.

Dr. Turner also said that secondhand toys appeal to families because of their accessibility and affordability.

However, Chartered Trading Standards Institute officer Mark Gardiner pointed out that there is no guarantee for the safety of all secondhand goods. Because of this, he is calling out to all parents to evaluate the risks and think twice before giving their children toys that are extremely old and that went through degradation. In addition, he recommends implementing a recall of hazardous products from the market.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• After reading the article, would you still consider buying secondhand products? Why or why not?
• Aside from toys, what other secondhand products do you think should be examined? Why?

Discussion B

• In your opinion, are children more exposed to health hazards than adults? Explain.
• Do you think your government’s current actions are enough to address health hazards in your country? Why or why not?