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Most cheap gadgets sold online are dangerous, says agency

Finland’s safety watchdog says nearly all products it tested were potentially hazardous, including toys that could be lethal to children.

Vaarallisia latureita esillä Tullin ja Tukesin verkkokaupan halpatuotteiden turvallisuudesta kertovassa tiedotustilaisuudessa.
Dangerous phone chargers found by Tukes and Finnish customs. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) says its tests indicate that many products sold cheaply online are dangerous.

The agency purchased and tested 32 toys, childcare items, jewellery and electrical devices from web retailers. Tukes ordered products from major online retail sites popular among consumers in Finland, such as eBay and Wish, both based in the US, and the China-based AliExpress.

Only one of the 32 items met EU standards, says Tukes. If the products were sold in Finland, shops would be required to issue recalls and remove them from sale.

Children's products "blatantly" dangerous

Tukes says that it found all 17 children’s items included in the test to be hazardous – many of them flagrantly so.

“For example, one of the items was a dummy chain that stretched out to 170 centimetres, when the maximum permitted length of a dummy chain in Europe is 22 centimetres. If the dummy chain is too long, it becomes a hangman’s noose for the baby. Toys that swell in the water that can be confused with loose sweets due to their appearance were also a cause for concern. For example, if a child chews on such a toy and a part of the toy enters into the child’s system, it could result in a lethal intestinal obstruction in the worst case,” says Anja Merenkivi, a senior officer at Tukes.

Cheapo chargers can start fires

Tukes also tested six USB chargers priced at less than five euros each – of which all but one turned out to be dangerous, potentially causing fires and/or electrical shocks.

“One of the chargers was among the most dangerous items discovered in Tukes’s history of electrical safety testing,” says Senior Officer Kimmo Hakala of Tukes.

The agency announced the test results as part of Monday’s launch of a new campaign called ‘At Your Own Risk’. It is aimed at warning people in Finland of the risks of ordering potentially dangerous products online, and reminding them that they are personally responsible for problems caused by anything bought from outside the EU – citing examples such as a faulty charger that led to a house burning down, cosmetics that caused serious allergic reactions and toys that could be lethal to children.

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