Parents warned as almost half of slime toys found to contain unsafe levels of a toxic chemical

Parents warned as almost half of slime toys found to contain unsafe levels of a toxic chemical
Five out of 13 slime products tested contained more than the acceptable limit for the chemical element boron (Photo: Shutterstock)

Many popular slime toys may contain higher than recommended levels of a potentially harmful chemical – and nearly half do not meet the EU safety standard, according to new research.

Consumer watchdog Which? tested 13 products from a range of high street and online retailers. Five of these contained more than the acceptable limit for the chemical element boron in toys. Another product, classified as a putty, also failed the test.

Short-term over-exposure to the chemical can cause skin irritation, diarrhoea, vomiting and cramps, according to experts.

What is boron?

Slime, a viscous and oozing substance which can be morphed into different shapes, has become increasingly popular among youngsters.

Borax – a compound of boron – is part of the product’s makeup, due to its ability to increase “stickiness”.

Parents are being warned against making their own slime products at home (Photo: Shutterstock)
Parents are being warned against making their own slime products at home (Photo: Shutterstock)

While compounds of boron are used in everyday products, such as eye drops, mild antiseptics and washing powders, a European Union safety directive outlines that liquid or sticky toys should contain no more than 300mg/kg of boron.

Exposure to large amounts of boron can affect the stomach, brain, liver, kidney and intestines and may eventually lead to death. It may also affect fertility and could harm unborn children, according to the European Commission.

Products that failed Which?’s test

  • Frootiputti, produced by Goobands and for sale in Hamleys – four times the permitted limit for slime
  • HGL’s Ghostbusters slime, which can be bought in Smyths Toys Superstores – more than three times the limit
  • Fun Foam, made by Zuru Oosh and sold by Argos – exceeded the limit for putty by 500mg/kg
  • The DIY Slime Kit, made by Essenson and available from Amazon – purple slime contained 4.5 times the legal level of boron
  • Jexybox 30z Glossy Slime in pink, sold by eBay, and ME Life TicTock Fluffy Slime in pink, sold by Amazon – exceeded the EU safety standard for boron

According to Which?, Goobands and HGL argue that their products are actually putty and not slime, so therefore adhere to the EU standard.

Not a new problem

Earlier this year, Which? found that eight out of 11 toy slime products tested exceeded the acceptable boron limit.

The consumer champion noted that Toysmith Jupiter Juice had over than four times the permitted level of boron with 1400mg/kg.

Eight out of 11 products tested contained potentially dangerous amounts of Boron
Earlier this year, eight out of 11 products tested were found to contain potentially dangerous amounts of Boron (Photo: Shutterstock)

This was followed by CCINEE Pink Fluffy Slime, which was found to contain 1000mg/kg, and Cosoro Dodolu Crystal Slime Magic Clay, which was found to 980mg/kg.

At the time, all eight products which failed testing could easily be purchased on Amazon, but were subsequently removed.

Similar slime products from high street toy shops The Works and Smyths, which were tested also met the standard.

Parents have, however, been warned against creating homemade incarnations of the toy.

Some reports have suggested that youngsters have sustained injuries after trying to replicate slime recipes found online.