Important News for Parents & Teachers in Korea

Admittedly not my usual sort of post, but then this news hit very close to home:

FAIL: Foam floor mats banned in France, Belgium. Shouldn’t we all know about this?

I actually love these mats. They were great to give some cushion to a crawling baby or unsteady toddler. I was even going to do a post on these being must-haves. Then a couple weeks ago I received news from family and friends in Europe that these were pulled off the market in Belgium and now France because they leached ammonia and formamide, a a toxic chemical. Other EU countries are expected to follow suit.  Not surprisingly, while this was headline news in Europe, it barely registered in the US other than on a couple of blogs.  I must say that I take all consumer petitions and outcries with a pinch of salt, but when you actually have a government entity admitting to it, then I take notice. So I did some additional research to see what this was all about before chucking them to the curb…

Suffice to say, the author found very good reason to indeed chuck them to the curb, as I have just done to my own daughters’ small hand-held ones.

Known as noliebang maetuh (놀이방매트; playroom mats) and/or  puhjul maetuh (퍼즐매트; puzzle mats) in Korean, after that my next thought was to see the reaction of Korean parents and the Korean government to the European ban. But while my wife was at pains to point out that the former are well aware of the dangers of the Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA; 에틸렌초산비닐수지) that they’re made of, that a quick browse of advertisements for them shows that they carried many warning labels about EVA accordingly, and indeed that she paid extra for our own floor mat because it wasn’t made out of it, unfortunately a search of Naver and Google for specifically formamide (포름아미드) plus 놀이방매트 or 퍼즐매트 produced no relevant hits whatsoever.  Like in the US, it seems it just didn’t register here.

Please help rectify this by passing on this news to anyone with children and/or in regular contact with them, although I admit I can just imagine the reaction of principals and kindergarten owners to the suggestion that they throw away all the mats in their buildings and invest in expensive non-EVA ones. Probably best then, would be for the news to be translated into Korean, but, well, frankly I’m much too busy myself for the next few weeks (and am much much better at doing it the other way round).

Any takers? Any other suggestions on how to publicize the news in Korea?

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