Unsafe stink bomb toy

21 Dec 2004

A spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) today (December 21) urged members of the public especially parents to stop children from playing a stink bomb toy found to be unsafe.

The spokesman made the appeal after the Department, having consulted Department of Health and Government Laboratory, concluded that the 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 at maximum when it came into contact with diluted acid.

According to the Department of Health, hydrogen sulphide may cause annoyance, nausea, headache and irritation of airway and eye depending on its concentration. Exposure to high concentration of hydrogen sulphide may cause acute intoxication. An expert group jointly convened by the World Health Organization and other international authorities recommended a tolerable concentration of 0.1 mg per cubic metre air for hydrogen sulphide to protect the health of the general public.

The non-compliance of the prescribed safety standard would pose a high risk to children playing the toy.

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

The toy in question 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. As a result, the package will be inflated and burst, giving out a disgusting smell and, at the same time, releasing 20 mg of hydrogen sulphide at maximum.

The spokesman said, "Customs investigation is 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.

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

Members of the public may deliver their unused stink bomb toy 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 our Special Hotline at 2231 4173 (during office hours) or the Customs Enquiry Hotline at 2815 7711 (outside office hours) for arranging 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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