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Unsafe stink bomb toy


The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) today (December 21) urged people, particularly parents, to stop children from playing with a stink bomb toy which is regarded as unsafe.

After consulting with the Department of Health and Government Laboratory it was concluded that samples of a stink bomb toy obtained from some retailers had failed to comply with the statutory safety requirements for toys. The problematic toy contained a water soluble sulphur compound that was able to generate 20 mg of hydrogen sulphide when it came into contact with diluted acid.

According to the Department of Health, hydrogen sulphide may cause nausea, headache and irritation of airways and eyes depending on its concentration. Exposure to high concentration of hydrogen sulphide may cause acute intoxication. An expert group jointly convened by the World Health Organisation and other international authorities recommended a tolerable concentration of 0.1 mg per cubic metre air for hydrogen sulphide to protect people's health.

A department spokesman said non-compliance of the prescribed safety standard would pose a high risk to children playing with the toy.

In recent operations, Customs officers seized 263 bags of the stink bomb toys and issued four Prohibition Notices to prevent the retailers concerned - three in Tuen Mun and one in Tseung Kwan O - from selling the unsafe toy.

The toy is a small silver colour metallic bag (measuring 3 inches x 4 inches) containing sulphur compound powder embedded with a small plastic bag of diluted acid. According to instructions printed on the package, when players press the package to break the inner plastic bag, the sulphur compound powder will then come into contact with the acid. The package will be inflated and then burst, giving off a disgusting smell and, at the same time, releasing up to 20 mg of hydrogen sulphide.

"Customs investigations are continuing with a view to taking appropriate administrative actions and/or prosecution actions against the companies for offences under the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance," the spokesman said.

Parents are urged to stop their children from playing the stink bomb toy.

People may hand in their unused stink bomb toys to the Consumer Protection and Prosecution Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department on the 11th floor, North Point Government Offices, 333 Java Road, North Point during office hours.

They may also call the Special Hotline at 2231 4173 (during office hours) or the Customs Enquiry Hotline at 2815 7711 (outside office hours) to arrange collection of the unsafe stink bomb toy by C&ED for disposal.

Under the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance, it is an offence to supply, manufacture or import unsafe toys into Hong Kong.

The maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of $100,000 and an imprisonment for one year on first conviction, and $500,000 and two years imprisonment on subsequent conviction.

For complaints regarding unsafe toys and children's products, consumers can write to the Consumer Protection and Prosecution Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department or call the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 to report.

Ends/Tuesday, December 21, 2004


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