Toys top danger list

The EU has issued an alert against almost 1,000 dangerous products being sold across Europe over the past year, with toys representing nearly a quarter of the blacklisted goods and half of all products coming from China.
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According to a report by the European rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products (RAPEX), the national authorities took protective measures against 924 products in 2006.

Of the five most problematic types of products - mainly posing risks of injuries, electric shock, burns or suffocation - toys dominated the list with 221 notifications (24 per cent), followed by electrical appliances (19 per cent), motor vehicles (14 per cent), lighters (11 per cent) and cosmetics (five per cent).

Compared to the previous year, toys took over from electrical appliances as the most risky products in 2006, receiving the most notifications for not being in line with the EU's product safety rules.

Cheap and unsafe mini-motorbikes imported to the EU have also caused special concern in Brussels. As reduced-scale copies of normal motorbikes with internal combustion engines, they proved to have serious design and construction defects and on some occasions had caused serious accidents, according to the report.

Germans (16 per cent), Hungarians (15 per cent), Greeks (11 per cent) and Britons (10 per cent) were the most active in reporting the dangerous items while the total number of notifications rose by 32 percent compared to 2005.

Around 48 percent of the blacklisted goods were imported from China as the biggest exporter to the EU, about one fifth was produced within the 27-strong bloc itself and 17 per cent of notified products were of unknown origin.

The EU executive is planning to upgrade the current version of the alert system with new IT technology to cover biological and chemical risks as well as risk in food and feed - all of which are currently beyond its scope.

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