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       Consumer Goods 02/07/2010
Study on safety of inflatable swim articles throughout Europe: 43 out of 88 products fail to conform to EU standards and rules.

During a press conference held in Brussels on 02 July, Friedrich Hecker (CEO of TÜV Rheinland) revealed the findings of the 2010 testing initiative.


When having a look at the several inflatable swim articles, mainly designed for children, invitees were put in a nice ‘summer holiday mood’, far from being worried. However, I wouldn’t advise you to take these articles back for your child – the TÜV Rheinland experts warned me. Because even though appearing nice on the outside, many of the articles sold for on average 10 Euros or less bear serious risks for the users. Some indicator even for the untrained buyer could be the smell of a product, TÜV Rheinland communication expert Rainer Weiskirchen said. Other criteria to look at are the reliability and competence of the retailer and a 3rd party testing mark.


“Those who buy air mattresses, inflatable swim rings or swim toys on the beach are often getting poor quality, but what’s far worse are the health risks they incur at the same time – especially for kids”, says Friedrich Hecker, CEO of TÜV Rheinland.


All swim toys were purchased directly on the beach for 0.69 Euros to 19.99 Euros in May 2010 in France, Italy and the Netherlands – where many tourists and families with children buy swim toys or air mattresses. The inspections were then performed at the testing labs of TÜV Rheinland Quality in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and of TÜV Rheinland LGA Products in Nuremberg, Germany.

Regardless the place of purchase, the results are similar in all countries and confirm TÜV Rheinland’s results of last year. The majority of the failures related to forbidden softeners, small parts that could be swallowed and wrong labelling. For swim seats for babies and small children there is the particular danger that the children will immediately capsize in the water, as the seat is too high and the child sits too far above the water.


The participants of the conference – coming from the European Institutions (DG SANCO & DG Enterprise as well as the European Parliament), the European consumer organisations (ANEC), the European Toys Industries Association, various media etc. all emphasised the need for a more harmonised level of product control in the EU Member States.


CEOC Secretary General Drewin Nieuwenhuis referred to the example of the harbour of Rotterdam where every day tons of goods arrive and have to be dealt with quickly. There is no time for in-depth control, but only for random checks at that point of the goods chain, he said. Therefore, preventive actions such as testing the product before reaching the market are key for making - for example - seaside summer holidays as enjoyable as safe. 


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