Tips for buying safe Christmas gifts online
Lurking online this Christmas shopping season is an abundance of products containing hazardous substances which can pose a risk if they don’t meet New Zealand’s strict rules to keep Kiwis safe.
“Products that can pose the most risk include cosmetics and toiletries, such as perfume and make up, and children’s graphics materials: finger paints, crayons, and watercolour paints,” Lizzie Wilson, Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) spokesperson for its Safer Homes Programme, says.
“We all like the convenience of online shopping, but it’s hard to know how safe the goods are if you don’t have a physical product in your hand,” says Ms Wilson.
“Every year, 500 children across New Zealand end up in hospital, harmed by a hazardous substance, including those which state they are natural as they can still be hazardous.
“The EPA’s hazardous substances data shows that injuries can occur from products: whether that’s the result of babies or toddlers who are prone to sucking or eating brightly coloured paints or crayons, to others who may experience skin reactions as a result of unsafe chemical formulas in skin or hair products,” says Ms Wilson.
When shopping online:
Buy products from retailers and brands you know and trust.
If you are in any doubt about the safety of a product, don’t buy or use it.
If the label isn’t in English, doesn’t list the ingredients, batch code and NZ importer and manufacturer contact details, the product isn’t compliant with the safety rules.
And when you bring your gifts home:
Store cosmetics and other hazardous substances out of reach of small children. Even if the product states it’s ‘non-toxic’ or ‘natural’ it could be dangerous if swallowed.
If you have an allergic or other reaction to a product, stop using it immediately. If the reaction is severe, get medical help.
Make sure you follow the instructions on the label, and use the product only as intended.
It’s also a good idea to patch test products to find out whether a product is likely to irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction when it is applied to a larger area.
Ordering from overseas
If you are ordering presents from overseas you need to know what is allowed. Products such as finger paints, crayons and water colour paints (graphics materials) need special permission. New Zealand Customs website has information about bringing these into the country https:/ /www.customs.govt.nz/personal/ prohibited-and-restricted-items/
For more tips visit www.epa.govt.nz/ saferhomes or the EPA Safer Homes Facebook page.