(CN) – The European Commission announced Thursday, in all capital letters, that it has not banned children from blowing up balloons, despite apparent media reports to the contrary.
The confusion apparently sprang from a July 20 directive about defective toys.
“Several media have falsely claimed that the directive would ban children under 8 from inflating balloons without adult supervision, because of the danger that young children could chew or swallow the balloon,” according to a statement from the commission. “Other inaccurate reports have stated that children under 14 would be banned from using paper blow outs.”
But the Brussels-based commission emphatically rejected this interpretation Thursday.
“In line with EU toy safety rules in place since 1998, balloons made of latex carry a warning aiming to prevent children from choking or suffocating by from inhaling or swallowing uninflated or broken balloons,” the new statement explains, adding that stronger balloons do not need to carry this warning. (Emphasis in original.)
“This warning recommends adult supervision, it does not forbid children under 8 from inflating balloons,” the statement continues.
The commission says it introduced the warning because there have been “several fatal accidents involving balloons.” (Emphasis in original.)
“The purpose is to draw parents’ attention to the risks of choking or suffocation that exist,” it said.
But the new directive simply maintains the 1988 warning that said toys should not present a risk of swallowing and “must be of such dimensions as to prevent them from being inhaled/ swallowed” if they are geared toward children under 3, according to the commission.
To comply with the 2011 directive, balloon manufacturers are supposed to print the message: “Warning! Children under eight years can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Adult supervision required. Keep uninflated balloons from children. Discard broken balloons at once.”