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Are stinky inflatable pool toys putting your kids at risk?
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Are stinky inflatable pool toys putting your kids at risk?
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Are stinky inflatable pool toys putting your kids at risk?

    Are stinky inflatable pool toys putting your kids at risk? 


    The researchers expressed concern that some of the products contain potentially hazardous chemicals that could pose a risk to children’s health, depending on the degree of exposure and concentration levels in the products.


   



    The researchers conducted tests using an inflatable beach ball, a pair of swimming armbands and two bathing rings they bought off the shelf from local stores and online suppliers in Germany.(Shutterstock)


    HEALTH


    Are stinky inflatable kids' toys putting your kids at risk? Here’s what a study found


    The researchers expressed concern that some of the products contain potentially hazardous chemicals that could pose a risk to children’s health, depending on the degree of exposure and concentration levels in the products.


    Washington D.C. | By ANI


    UPDATED ON APR 13, 2017 08:46 PM IST


    Turns out, there are many dangerous chemicals lurking in your swimming pool that can risk your children’s health.


   



    Inflatable sprinkler and swimming aids, like bathing rings and arm bands, often have a distinctive smell which could indicate that they contain a range of potentially hazardous substances.


   



    Some of these compounds, which include carbonyl compounds, cyclohexanone, phenol and isophorone, might be critical when present in higher concentrations in children’s toys, said authors Christoph Wiedmer and Andrea Buettner.


   



    Lead author Wiedmer from Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Germany and his team conducted tests using an inflatable pool, a pair of swimming armbands and two bathing rings they bought off the shelf from local stores and online suppliers in Germany.


   



    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).


   



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


   



    Between 32 and 46 odours were detected in each sample, of which up to thirteen 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.


   



    As part of the study, a panel of trained volunteers sniffed each product, and ascribed common odour attributes to these. They also rated the intensity of each odour, and had to guess whether these could be hazardous. Three of the products reminded the panellists of almonds, plastic and rubber, while the fourth more pungent one reminded them of glue and nail polish.


   



    Wiedmer expressed his concern that some of the products contain potentially hazardous chemicals that could pose a risk to children’s health, depending on the degree of exposure and concentration levels in the products. 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 this is a suspect substance in the development of cancer in humans.


   



    “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 Wiedmer.


   



    “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,” noted Wiedmer. “However, we found that in a number of cases our noses can guide us to ‘sniff out’ problematic products.”


   



    The study appears in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (ABC).


    Backyards and patios have been working hard all year because of the pandemic, and this summer they can provide new ways to cool off and have fun in the water.


   



    Whether you have a lot of space or a little, there’s gear ranging from water tables and tubs for kids to floating loungers with drink holders for adults.


   



    One company, Minnidip, makes inflatable “adult kiddie pools” that aim to transport you to some exotic travel destination. Patterns on the Marrakesh pool reference Moroccan architectural details, while the Amalfi is a nod to the blue, yellow and white tile of the Italian coast.


   



    “Because for me, having a pool on our urban Chicago rooftop felt like being transported to another place,” says company founder Emily Vaca. “I wanted to capture that feeling through design and pattern. “


   



    Minnidip also offers inflatable drinks coolers and glam pool balls filled with gold confetti, among other offerings.


   



    The only water table that lets you make waves, Little Tikes’ Island Wavemaker has a water wheel, plus cute sea creatures and a wee pirate to send paddling around the waterway or down the waterfall. Toddlers can practice their fine motor skills with Little Tikes’ Spinning Seas Water Table; small balls, a cup, a funnel and a water wheel set up the fun.


   



    Step2’s two-sided Waterfall Discovery Wall has adjustable toggles, spinners and chutes to send the water tumbling in lots of different ways. And Lakeshore Learning’s Watch It Flow water table features three plastic logs that can be configured however you wish. Fill the logs using a hose or bucket; gates control the flow and can close up to make long tubs.


   



    Foamo, also from the folks at Little Tikes, creates mountains of easy-to-clean-up foam when you add the nontoxic, biodegradable foam solution to water.


   



    HOSE HAPPY


   



    Turn on the hose and attach it to West Elm's inflatable car bed or giant shark mouth sprinklers. Fat Brain Toy’s Hydro Twist Pipeline Sprinkler has a couple of fountains, plus a bunch of wiggly worm hoses. Or hook up to BigMouth’s giant 6-foot-high unicorn, who shoots water out of her horn. There’s a ginormous ape, giraffe, dinosaur and giraffe here as well.


   



    SWIM AND PADDLE


   



    Giant inflatable water wheels let you find your inner hamster. You can find ones online for toddlers, while Wow Watersports has a grownup version they call the Aqua Treadmill.


   



    Don’t forget the family pets; a nonporous, puncture-resistant floating dog bed at Frontgate comes in a bunch of colors and three sizes.


   



    Chewy has ZippyPaws Floaterz sturdy turtle-shaped water toys for dogs, as well as rope-handled bumpers and a variety of floating balls.


   



    A hard-sided kiddie pool can be a good non-inflatable option for cooling off; just hose it out and stow away. Other pluses: The doggos will also have fun splashing around in it, and it makes a great sand or snow play zone in colder weather. The Sun Squad Wading Kiddie Pool is inexpensive and has an embossed bottom, so it’s less slippery.


   



    SLIDE AND RIDE


   



    A basic heavy-duty plastic water slide or “slip and slide” can be set up in most backyards; if yours doesn’t come with an attached barrier at the bottom, make sure to put something soft there.


   



    Studio 21 Graphix’s slide has a crash pad at the finish line, plus two lanes for racing and a sprinkler curtain to pass thru on the way down. Wow Watersports’ Strike Zone Water Slide is 25-by-6 feet of slipperiness; zigzag sprinkler patterns assure a wet ride, fat pontoons on either side keep riders inside, and two sleds are included. Got a really long yard? Get two; they can be interconnected.


   



    If you’ve got lots of space, consider Costway’s inflatable Bounce House and Water Slide, with a bounce area, water gun, two slides, a basketball hoop and several balls. It comes with a storage bag for easy transport.


   



    POOL STYLE


   



    Marisa Issa of Los Angeles says her family’s favorite pool games are corn hole and a floating basketball hoop, but her favorite is a floating mat from Frontgate “that only mom can use,” she says. The sleek, minimalist white float has a headrest, and is made of marine-grade dense foam, suitable for chlorine or saltwater pools.


   



    If you prefer sitting up a little, Frontgate’s got a floating armchair with attached ottoman. Choose from aqua, blue or flamingo pink. Or splash out on a full-size pool chaise kitted out with drink holders.


   



    Want to hang out with a handful of friends in a backyard pool? Funboy has a 9-foot-wide floating metallic crown with drink holders. Or lounge luxuriously in the company’s Bali Cabana Lounger, with a curved integrated shade, a tropical leaf print, cup holders and handy grab ropes.


   



    BigMouth has some food-related inflatables like a giant ice pop, pizza slice, donut, watermelon slice, cheeseburger and taco.


    At first, glance, laying on an inflatable toy in shallow water seems pretty safe. After all, the water isn't deep, and there is a floating toy right there. Recently, a family's trip to the beach in Nova Scotia proved to be a harrowing reminder of why this is not the case. In August, two 5-year-olds played in shallow water – one in an inflatable ring, the other on an inflatable roller. Because the girls were in shallow water, their caregiver assumed the inflatable toys were enough. It wasn't until the girls began to drift away from that the complete danger of the situation became clear.


   



    Inflatable toys can be dangerous


    Because they are so light and buoyant, they tend to drift in the water or deflate when they get wet. That's when it's a problem. Kids don't know when their toys are deflated and cannot compensate when they're in the water. They can get trapped in the holes or strangle. When the girls got stuck, their caregiver did the right thing by calling for help. First responders rescued the girls and took them to the hospital to be treated for their injuries. While it's infrequent that inflatable toys are the source of injury to kids, it's good to know that they can pose a hazard. The numbers aren't obvious, but it seems that they're responsible for 1 in every 100 boating-related deaths in the U.S. and are one of the leading causes of drowning for children aged 4-6.


   



    Why Inflatable Toys Can Be Dangerous


    The giant inflatable was much bigger than the girls and began to drag the mattress toward shore, according to the parent of one of the girls who spoke with CTVNews. However, the inflatable ring wasn't nearly as big or heavy and was drifting with the current. The girls eventually lost hold of both and drifted a considerable distance. The girls' parents rushed to the scene and tried to retrieve their children, but the current was too firm, and the military eventually rescued them. The girls were found to be unharmed. Since this incident, many parents have expressed concerns about the safety of inflatable toys.


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