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A Consumer Council test on a safety gate for children found excessive levels of a chemical compound that could lead to learning deficiencies.

Four other models of eight gates designed for

children up to two years old failed to meet the European safety standard, which is more stringent than the American standard, according to the council. Hong Kong laws require safety gates to meet at least one of the standards.

The council urged the government to use only the European standard for reference for better protection of children.

“When it comes to child safety, one accident is too many, so the more stringent the standard is, the better,” said council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han.

The test found that Mothercare’s Pressure Fix Safety Gate Auto Close contained 18 milligrams per kilogram of organotin compound in the plastic material for securing the gate to the wall, which exceeded the 12mg/kg limit set by the European Toy Standard.

Organotin contains mainly monomethyltin compound, which animal tests have shown could lead to learning deficiencies in breastfed baby rats after being consumed by the mother rats. But there is no research data regarding the possible health impact of the compound on people, the council said.

In its reply to the council, Mothercare said it had stopped selling the model. The company said the gate was not a toy and should not be tested against the standard for toys. Also, the excessive compound was in a place that was difficult for children to put into their mouths.

The other four problematic models failed to meet the European Standard, which is different to the toy standard, the council said. The models claimed to have an automatic closing function but failed to shut and lock automatically in some circumstances.

Three of the four models were found to have oversized gaps in different positions, raising the risk of children getting their heads, fingers or toes trapped.

Meanwhile, the council recorded 56 complaints last year about arrangements of mega-size fairs and events. The council found that many event organisers asked participants to sign a “disclaimer” to evade liabilities, with some stating in the terms and conditions that users could not file complaints with any third-party organisations.

The body reminded consumers that Hong Kong laws do not allow any party to exclude or restrict liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence by simply referring to contract terms.

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