Why sex toys are ‘safer’ than kids’ toys: study

Fewer sex toys than children's toys contain toxic chemicals, a Swedish agency has found.

Why sex toys are 'safer' than kids' toys: study
Sex toys, pretty safe it turns out. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The Swedish Chemicals Agency said it had surveyed sex toys from 16 companies and found that only two percent contained dangerous chemicals.

It compared it to a survey in 2015, when the agency found dangerous chemical substances, including lead, in 15 percent of kids' toys – making children's toys more harmful than sex toys in terms of exposure to chemicals.

“We were surprised that we found less of those forbidden substances in sex toys than in other types of toys,” Frida Ramström, an inspector of the agency, told The Local, but added that as the tested children's toys were mostly of low quality, they were “not statistically representative” for the entire market of kids' toys.

Among the 44 products investigated, one plastic dildo was found to contain chlorinated paraffins, which is suspected of causing cancer. 

Three of the examined sex toys, made of leather and bondage tape, contained phthalates, used as a plasticizer, at levels above 0.1 percent, the agency said.

Phthalates are not banned in sex toys, but are on the EU list of chemicals that are of “very high concern”. It can affect the hormonal balance and cause infertility.

Ramström said tough European regulations over chemical substances in products was a reason behind the relative safety.

It is difficult to determine exactly why more children's toys contain dangerous chemicals, she said. But many are imported from Asia, making it more difficult to toughen demands over safety of the products.

“The lesson sort of is: to make materials without dangerous substances, the sex toy companies probably specify more to the manufacturer what substances should not be in the products,” said Ramström.

“The key for Swedish companies is communication with the manufacturer and companies they buy from.”

Interview by The Local's intern Christian Krug.


Over one in ten children live in low-income households in Norway

The proportion of children who live in low-income households has increased steadily since 2011, rising to just over one-in-ten, according to a report from Statistics Norway.

Over one in ten children live in low-income households in Norway
Photo: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The report found that there a total of 115,000 children belong to households in low-income groups. This is around 11 percent of all children in Norway.

“Studies show that people born into low-income families have in increased risk of being left behind in several areas of living, among other things, growing up in low-income shows a connection with negative health outcomes. It has been shown that young people’s mental health is affected by belonging to a low-income family,” the report states.

In its article on the data, Statistics Norway defines “persistent low income” households as having “under 60 percent of [national] median average [income] over three years”.

Children with an immigrant background have accounted for more than half the children from persistent low-income groups since 2013. This is despite only accounting for 18 percent of all children. Nearly 40 percent of children with immigrant backgrounds belong to low-income households, according to the Statistics Norway figures.

“This has a clear connection with the fact that households with a weak connection to the labour market are exposed to low income,” the report said.

Families with a Syrian background had the highest proportion of low-income households with almost nine-out-of-ten children coming from low-income families. Meanwhile, the largest group of children in number are those with a Somali background with over 11,000 of these children living in low-income households. Children with an Eritrean background saw the largest jump.

READ ALSO: Immigrants in Norway more likely to be affected by loneliness 

The report indicated that the reason behind these groups having large numbers of children belonging to low-income households was because the average number of people in the household with an occupation was less than one between 2017 and 2019.

Those with Lithuanian and Polish backgrounds saw decreases of children in low-income households. Children from these countries, as well as Sri Lanka, India and Bosnia-Herzegovina averaged 1.5 people employed in the household in the same period.  

Single parents are much more likely to be found in low-income groups, as are families with three or more children. 

The areas with the largest municipalities were most exposed to low income. Sarpsborg, in southern Norway, overtook Drammen as the municipality with the largest proportion of low-income children with 19.1 percent.