UPDATE: Foam mats banned in Europe, why not here?

It’s been relatively quiet on the floor mat topic since it first became news in Europe in December. I was glad to see that it was picked up in other parts of the world in January as well, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s been mainly a word-of-mouth online campaign in North America. You can read my full post on the topic here.

Safbaby has done a great job of keeping on top of the issue by hounding  contacting retailers and manufacturers with respect to the contents of their foam mats. Not only have they asked them to confirm whether their products contained or emanated any formamide, but have also asked for test results as back up. Some have been forthcoming with their results (like Edushapes and Tadpoles) while others have made frankly fishy claims that their test results are proprietary. Some, like giant retailer Toys-R-Us, have been completely unable to provide any response whatsoever. You can follow Safbaby’s reporting here.

Separately, the Belgian government has been keeping track of the various manufacturers in its market and keeps an updated list of Approved / Not Approved / Still Pending foam mats. Each manufacturer/importer/retailer needs to prove that their product is free of any harmful substances (including the infamous formamide).  This list could potentially be helpful in identifying the good and bad mats if you live in Europe. You can find that list (a pdf in French) here (it’s the third link on the page).  For the non-francophones: “Liste 1” has the brands/products that are free and clear and hence approved for sale. “Liste 2” contains the ones that are known to be bad and banned. “Liste 3” contains the ones whose risk is still not confirmed and currently suspended until lab proof is provided.

UPDATEFoam Mats Health Risk: The Test Results Are In!

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13 Responses to UPDATE: Foam mats banned in Europe, why not here?
  1. Morris
    February 4, 2011 | 9:58 am

    SoftTiles.com foam mats have been tested (January 2011) and are formamide free. Thanks.

  2. Robin
    February 9, 2011 | 10:13 am

    I’ve got one of these (12″ Foam Alphabet and Numbers Playmat) made by Universe of Imagination and distributed by Toys’R’Us here. It is listed in SafBaby’s report but doesn’t say if it is free of formamide or not. Dang it!

    • papa
      Twitter: papalogic
      February 9, 2011 | 10:39 am

      Hi Robin – it’s quite unfortunate that Toys R Us has been really bad about responding to safbaby’s questions! Terrible service in my opinion! Hopefully they will. In the end, these mats aren’t so expensive to replace.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      papalogic

    • Janey
      July 20, 2011 | 11:11 pm

      I saw it adverstised in the Toys’R’Us catalogue as formamide free but it doesn’t say so on the packaging?? Huh?

      • papa
        Twitter: papalogic
        July 21, 2011 | 12:48 am

        Hi Janey – hard to say, but worth either asking customer service (but I’d surprized if they have a proper answer). It all depends how much you trust Toys R Us. If you’re unsure, just return them. Other online retailers offer formamide free mats (try SkipHop, I think).

  3. Anna
    March 2, 2011 | 4:14 pm

    Does anyone kno about the safety of the Early Learning Centre’s Recreation mats as we use these in my child’s nursery school?

    • papa
      Twitter: papalogic
      March 4, 2011 | 1:23 am

      Hi Anna – I don’t have any info on ELC mats. Try to ask the store or send the company an email asking about it. Many of the retailers have been responsive.

      Thanks for dropping by,

      papalogic

  4. Joyce Brewer
    March 14, 2011 | 12:31 pm

    I just received a response from Toys “R” Us regarding the Imaginarium Foam Mat. I was told it DOES NOT contain formamide.
    Here is my update blog post & product review: http://bit.ly/e0PQfm
    Joyce Brewer recently posted…The decision to change- keep or hyphenate your last name after marriageMy Profile

  5. papa
    Twitter: papalogic
    March 16, 2011 | 11:44 am

    Hi Joyce, thanks for dropping. It’s good to hear that Toys R Us got back to you. I would still caution you: just because the PR person asked their supplier (in China) and they said “no” it doesn’t mean that’s it necessarily true (even if they are being honest about it).

    In some cases, the formamide is a bi-product of the manufacturing process and thus needs to be tested for.

    The folks at safbaby have been pretty good about getting actual test results.

    Thanks for your comment,

    papa

  6. sarah
    July 10, 2011 | 3:52 pm

    I’ve had these mats in my basement underneath the kids carpet for the last 6rs what damage has been caused?

    • papa
      Twitter: papalogic
      July 21, 2011 | 12:46 am

      Hi Sarah – whatever harmful fumes have long gone. Having the carpet on top also probably helps.

  7. Ross
    July 26, 2011 | 8:36 am

    It’s disappointing that after more than half a year there is still so little information available. And now it appears even the French pdf chart of test results is no longer availble.

    It’s still not clear to me what the danger is. Is it off-gassing or dust/particles? Are we worried about the little ones breathing poison or ingesting it? Is it only new tiles? How new is new? How much formamide is in the tiles that were banned? Was it used in the manufacturing processes for those tiles – or a by product as some have suggested?

    Can any french speakers out there do some research and clarify what the actual concern is?

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