Loom bands are fun to weave and make eye-catching accessories, but some imports harbour toxic cancer-causing chemicals at 500 times the legal limit.

Fun to play with but could be toxic

Fun to play with but could be toxic

The craze for loom bands has really taken off this summer and packets of hundred of the tiny elastic bands can be bought from shops, markets and online. However, researchers are warning that some retailers could be flouting regulations.

The British Assay Office, which tests for the composition of products, how pure they are are whether they conform to regulations has discovered that some loom bands on sale in Britain contain 500 times the legal level of toxins.

The Assay Office was checking the levels of phthalates, chemicals that are added to plastics to make them flexible and harder to break. Although they are a vital component of the loom band elastic, they are suspected to be carcinogenic, or cancer-causing and are officially designated “probable human carcinogens.”

A spokesman for the British Assay Office said: “It is the charms supplied with loom band making packs which we are finding in the majority of cases at the moment are failing. The latest loom bands craze in particular is throwing up some alarming results considering these products are so child appealing.

“Phthalates can migrate from plastic into the body if they come into contact with saliva or sweat. The latest craze for loom bands has highlighted once again that an apparently harmless product may have long-term detrimental effects to health.”

The legal limit in plastic toys, including loom bands, should not exceed 0.1%; however testing in the UK has found that some loom bands contain as much as 50%. Councils are now recommending that parents check the band they buy comply with European guidelines before giving them to their children.