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Foam Puzzle Mat Immedate Removal In France Due to Toxic Formamide

December 14, 2010 | 18 Comments

OUR LATEST UPDATES FROM NOVEMBER 29th, 2011 CAN BE FOUND HERE!

ALL Foam Puzzle Mats have been removed from shelves in Belgium and France this holiday season due to high amounts of Formamide!

Foam Puzzle Mats are a typical flooring in infants and children’s rooms, and even child care facilities and preschools.  I recently received a foam mat for our son, and although I have been suspicious, I still had it at our home for our son to play on.   After this report, I will for sure put it in the trash.

So Friday in Belgium began the debate with the ruling authorities of that country to withdraw from sale any carpets puzzlefoam due to the presence of harmful particles formamide, an industrial chemical carcinogen. Belgium anticipates a European measure which provides for the prohibition from 2013 of formamide in all EU countries.

These mats, composed of giant puzzle pieces of all colors are made from a kind of rubbery plastic similar to that used for flooring or outdoor centers gymnastic mats. To make them more flexible, formamide can be added , a substance described as ” harmful if inhaled or ingested, irritating to eyes and skin “, as had already denounced in 2009 for consumer Belgian, Italian Portuguese and Spanish. And children are particularly vulnerable because it is common for a young child to put into their mouth whatever it is they touch. This type of foam is, therefore,especially toxic. It is easy to remove these pieces and put them into their mouths.

The formamide is also one of the substances known as “CMR (carcinogenic and / or mutagenic or toxic to reproduction) for the European Union, as a reproductive toxicant. The use of CMR substances in toys will be prohibited in all countries of the European Union from July 2013 under a directive came into force in summer 2009.

When pure, the formamide is as a colorless liquid and viscous, with a slight ammonia odor, soluble in water.It can be absorbed into the body by inhalation of its fumes but also through the skin and by ingestion.  Under this pure form, its toxicity is proven. For exposures of short duration, it is irritating to eyes and skin.  It can also affect the central nervous system.  The formamide is not classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the WHO, which says “have not evaluated the carcinogenicity of this substance to date”.  However, official U.S. organizations have established a link between this substance and some cancers, including liver, in animals tested.

We’ll keep you updated if we hear about the particular brands in the French and Belgium News.  Please see our Part 2 post on this subject, with info from manufacturers here.

Here is the news report in French:

Tags:

Category: 0-1 yr, 1-3 yrs, 3-5 yrs, 5+ yrs, Daycare and Preschool, Indoor Air Pollution, Nursery

  • Christine

    should we be worried about puzzle mats purchased in USA?
    Thanks!

  • Mia

    Are these the EVA foam mats?? I was looking into getting one of these for my son to put his floor puzzles together on with the extra bonus of being able to take them apart and build things. Any other suggestions for play mats so he doesn’t scratch up his puzzles on the hardwood??

  • Adriana

    Does this include the EVA foam mats from skip hop that are supposed to be safe (free of bpa, pvc, phthalates)?

  • safbaby

    Response to Christine: Yes, they use same materials plus European standards are usually stricter than US.

  • safbaby

    Response to Mia: Yes, these are the EVA foam mats. At this time I do not know of a safer alternative.

  • safbaby

    Some Foam Mats contain Toxic Formamide but not all. Although companies label their mats as bp, pvc, and phthalates-free they may still contain Formamide. We are trying to find out which ones are Formamide free, for now I wouldn’t purchase a foam mat.

  • safbaby

    Some EVA foam mats may be Formamide free, but at this time I can’t tell you which brand.

  • CheckYour Facts

    I’m surprised your website would flat out state that Skip Hop mats are made with formamide, when in fact they are not. I’ve also in a quick 5 minute search found several U.S. manufacturers who clearly state they also do not use it in their manufacturing process. You may want to do your research before making blanket statements to scare consumers who may have perfectly safe mats in their home.

  • Nicole M

    What about other foam products? Puzzles, bath products, etc? For example, we have the toddler puzzle pack from Lauri and they are all some type of foam-y product. Yikes!

  • safbaby

    We never stated that Skip Hop mats are made with formamide. We actually, to get the facts right, contacted the company directly to find out. Here is the response from Skip Hop:

    “All Skip Hop products, including the Playspot, meet or exceed regulatory safety standards in the USA and Europe, without exception.

    We do not add Formamide to Playspot, although it can be a byproduct of the EVA foam manufacturing process (which includes such items as flip flops and many bath toys). That said, due to these concerns, we have tested Playspot using ISO 16000 methods.

    We are pleased that our Playspots received the lowest possible score, <2ug/m3 (less than 2 millionths of a gram per cubic meter) for Formamide emissions, the lowest measurable result with this testing method. These tests show that – within the limits of the test – its presence is essentially not detectable.

    Therefore, the Playspot is a safe EVA floor mat option for children and you should feel confident that we have specifically tested for this issue.

    Feel free to contact us with further questions.”

    Best,

    Skip Hop Team

  • Dave B

    This website sells a particular mat and they specify “formamide free.” To me it looks like the same product we bought on Amazon so maybe we should hold off on returning ours just yet.
    http://www.greatmats.com/products/dense-foam-mats.php

  • Mia

    Just wanted to thank you for your quick responses and all the work I’m sure your doing trying to get answers for all of us. Can’t say how much I appreciate this!!!

  • http://www.papalogic.com papa

    I got news of this issue from friends and family in Europe. France has since followed Belgium and ordered these types of EVA foam floor mats off the market until they could do their own testing. I wrote a piece about it here: http://bit.ly/e1GcFv (I also had the idea of including a video clip!)

    What was concerning about the European tests is that the great majority of the brands tested by the Belgian authorities were found to contain / leach formamide (only 2 of more than 30 were cleared), so it’s probably fair to say the same ratio applies in the US.

    This issue was raise by various consumer associations some time ago, so some companies may have changed their manufacturing processes and hence can claim that their products are formamide free. Ultimately, it’s a cost issue (formamide is the cheaper solution to making the tiles soft and flexible).

    Also, keep in mind that many of these products look the same, so just because one manufacturer categorically claims that their products are formamide free, it doesn’t mean that others are.

    In any case, these mats are relatively inexpensive, so we took ours out. Our child is walking now so might as well move on and get a nice carpet.

    Do note that the reports say that the formamide and ammonia gases dissipate over time, so if you’ve had yours for a few months…they are probably free of those chemicals (that frankly didn’t make us any happier since it was probably inhaled/ingested by our crawling baby at the time…)

  • Luci Kocak

    Wow! We have foam mats (large blocks) covering our whole playroom. I got them from the local playhouse as they had extra left-over that they did not use and they had been out for a while, so I didn’t really notice much of a smell when we purchased them. We installed them when our baby, now a toddler, began crawling as our house is all tiles and we wanted a safe space for her to play in. Yikes! I am hoping these do not contain formamide or if they did, it dissipated before we got them. Will spread the word about this though. Thank you for keeping us informed!

  • NyMom

    Australia has now launched an investigation into the safety of foam mats. They are advising that parents remove them, as a precaution, until more tests can be completed.

  • Jing

    Any updates? I wanna buy skip hop mat…

  • Hels

    Just found about this from your website – very concerned as the picture you have is the play mat we own! I don’t know the name of the company, is this a playmat I should get rid of?! We have had it since December 2011 from TK Maxx.

  • safbaby

    It’s really up to you. We don’t recommend ANY foam mats….if your child is very young and chews on it, then I would get rid of it.

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