image courtesy:Inspiring Home Designs

Parents, beware ! Inflatable toys and swimming aids, such as beach balls and arm bands, may have potentially hazardous substances that can put your child at the risk of cancer, a new study warns.

Researchers from Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Germany conducted tests using an inflatable beach ball, a pair of swimming armbands and two bathing rings.

A small piece of material from each sample was analysed using a variety of material analysis techniques, including one that takes infrared measurements, and it was concluded that the inflatable objects were all made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Researchers then investigated the molecular make-up of the distinctive smells arising from the pool toys.

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They extracted detectable odours from each sample using solvent extraction and high vacuum distillation methods, and then identified the main odorants using a combination of sensory and common analytical approaches.

They detected between 32 and 46 odours in each sample, of which up to 13 were quite intense.

The majority of these odorants were identified and among these were several fatty smelling mono-or di-unsaturated carbonyl compounds and their epoxidised derivatives, but also odouractive organic solvents such as cyclohexanone, isophorone and phenol.

Cyclohexanone can be harmful if inhaled, phenol is known to be acutely toxic and to presumably have mutagenic potential and isophorone is a category 2 carcinogen, which means that it is a suspect substance in the development of cancer in humans.

Cyclohexanone is the organic compound with the formula (CH₂)₅CO. The molecule consists of six-carbon cyclic molecule with a ketone functional group. This colorless oil has an odor reminiscent of peardrop sweets as well as acetone.

A panel of trained volunteers sniffed each product and ascribed common odour attributes to them.They also rated the intensity of each odour and had to guess whether these could be hazardous, researchers said.

Three of the products reminded the panelists of almonds, plastic and rubber, while the fourth more pungent one reminded them of glue and nail polish.“A range of these substances are not yet resolved in their chemical structures.

Likewise, potential negative effects on humans, such as irritation, smell nuisance, or other physiological or psychosomatic effects still need to be resolved,” said Christoph Wiedmer of Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV.

“Modern products such as toys and children’s products are sourced from a wide variety of chemical and physical manufacturing processes, and this complexity often makes it difficult for us to identify those containing contaminants and unwanted substances, and to determine their causes,” Wiedmar said.

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