ALL Foam Puzzle Mats have been removed from shelves in Belgium and France this holiday season due to high amounts of Formamide!

Foam Puzzle Mats are a typical flooring in infants and children’s rooms, and even child care facilities and preschools.  I recently received a foam mat for our son, and although I have been suspicious, I still had it at our home for our son to play on.   After this report, I will for sure put it in the trash.

So Friday in Belgium began the debate with the ruling authorities of that country to withdraw from sale any carpets puzzlefoam due to the presence of harmful particles formamide, an industrial chemical carcinogen. Belgium anticipates a European measure which provides for the prohibition from 2013 of formamide in all EU countries.

These mats, composed of giant puzzle pieces of all colors are made from a kind of rubbery plastic similar to that used for flooring or outdoor centers gymnastic mats. To make them more flexible, formamide can be added , a substance described as ” harmful if inhaled or ingested, irritating to eyes and skin “, as had already denounced in 2009 for consumer Belgian, Italian Portuguese and Spanish. And children are particularly vulnerable because it is common for a young child to put into their mouth whatever it is they touch. This type of foam is, therefore,especially toxic. It is easy to remove these pieces and put them into their mouths.

The formamide is also one of the substances known as “CMR (carcinogenic and / or mutagenic or toxic to reproduction) for the European Union, as a reproductive toxicant. The use of CMR substances in toys will be prohibited in all countries of the European Union from July 2013 under a directive came into force in summer 2009.

When pure, the formamide is as a colorless liquid and viscous, with a slight ammonia odor, soluble in water.It can be absorbed into the body by inhalation of its fumes but also through the skin and by ingestion.  Under this pure form, its toxicity is proven. For exposures of short duration, it is irritating to eyes and skin.  It can also affect the central nervous system.  The formamide is not classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the WHO, which says “have not evaluated the carcinogenicity of this substance to date”.  However, official U.S. organizations have established a link between this substance and some cancers, including liver, in animals tested.

We’ll keep you updated if we hear about the particular brands in the French and Belgium News. Please see our Part 2 post on this subject, with info from manufacturers here.