When EVA foam play mats hit the market, they created quite a happy stir. They were soft and shock-absorbent, which meant kids were cushioned against bumps, scrapes, and injuries as they rolled on them, jumped, played with their toys, threw tantrums...and generally acted the way kids do! Parents breathed a collective sigh of relief because they had discovered a wonderful way to keep their kids safe and comfortable while they played. It was short-lived, however, because the ANSES report released on July 15, 2011, changed everything.
What were the findings of the ANSES study?
ANSES was the French agency commissioned to conduct a study about the potential health risks of formamide exposure from EVA foam mats. Its findings revealed that formamide, classified as a reprotoxic substance, adversely affected development in infants and affected reproductive health—sexual function and fertility—in adult males and females. The tests had only been conducted on rats, but data from rats that were exposed to formamide throughout their lifetimes suggested a potential carcinogenic effect (tumors). More research would be needed to make a confident assertion about this, but the possible carcinogenic effects of prolonged exposure could not be excluded, the report said. Based on this report, EVA foam mats were banned in France and Belgium.
What is Formamide?
Formamide is used as a solvent, plasticiser or additive in the chemical, pharmaceutical, plastics and polymer industries. Technically, formamide is not ‘used’ to manufacture EVA foam but is, rather, a ‘by-product’ of the process. This means manufacturers cannot be faulted when they say the chemical is not used in the production. This absolves manufacturers, but the health risks to children remains.
The ANSES report shook things up when it was released. However, independent studies were conducted over time by other governing bodies and they released their analyses as well. They asserted that, though risks from formamide existed, they were not as serious as the ANSES report suggested. However, all studies agreed on some fundamental points:
- The highest degree of formamide exposure came almost exclusively through inhalation. Exposure through sucking, chewing, or swallowing a piece of the mat was negligible.
- The highest levels of formamide emissions occur in the first one or two weeks of mat use. After this, the amount of formamide released by mats reduces to almost negligible amounts. This means that if EVA foam mats are allowed to sit outside in an open area such as a veranda, windowsill or balcony for a couple of weeks or more to “off-gas”, they would be considerably safer to use.
- Adults are almost never affected by formamide. Children, however, are vulnerable to it.
As a result of these findings, parents, unwilling to take even the slightest chance with their children’s health and safety, started discontinuing the use of EVA foam mats. Many started exploring other options such as pure rubber mats, wool rugs, cotton mattresses etc. However, none of these could match the cushioning that EVA mats offered. That’s when Dwinguler introduced a play mat that met the highest safety and quality standards, that had a thick padded body for superior cushioning, and that was a delight for kids.
The Dwinguler Playmat Safety Edge
Dwinguler Playmats are free from formamide. They are also free from harmful heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, chromium, selenium, arsenic, barium, antimony or mercury; from toxic materials such as formaldehyde and toluene; from phthalate chemicals; and from endocrine disrupters. The play mats are extremely safe for kids and the environment. The company is not simply making tall claims in order to sell—the play mats have been approved by SGS, comply with the requirements of Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in the USA, safe standards in Europe (EN-71 passed), as well as the GCC Technical Regulations (Gulf Conformity Mark).
The construction and surface material of the play mats contribute to safety as well. The non-slip surface of the play mats helps reduce slipping and, thus, minor falls and bumps. The thick padded body of the mats cushions tender knees, heads and wrists against serious injury in case of a fall. Parents who are worried about the offensive chemical odour that play mats often emit will be delighted to find Dwinguler mats pleasantly odour-free.
Additionally, the play mats come in rich, bright colours, and have interesting graphics and educative elements. Kids find them visually engaging and they learn as they play, which inadvertently prepares them for their academic life.
Over time, Dwinguler has proved that it is one of the best play mats in the market. When parents purchase a Dwinguler Playmat, they can be sure they are purchasing the safest one for their children. The trust Dwinguler inspires is visible from the increasing number of parents across the world who are choosing Dwinguler for its safety. Dwinguler has not given them a reason to regret that decision. The company continues to invest in R&D, developing and introducing new products that are focused on the same things they have always focused on—safety and healthy overall development in children.