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Swiss don’t heed chemical warning symbols

There are around 50,000 chemical accidents in Swiss households annually that happen despite warning symbols displayed on products, experts say.

This content was published on January 12, 2010 - 12:14

The symbols are not sufficiently well-known and consumers don’t pay them enough attention, according to a study commissioned by the Federal Health Office.

Each household has washing powders, weather-proofing and stain-removing sprays based on products which contain dangerous chemicals, it found.

Up to 2005, these products were classified according to their toxicity. Since then black symbols on an orange background have been used to signal different dangers, such as toxic, irritant or corrosive properties.

The Health Office study showed that users rarely respect these danger symbols, relying more often on the general appearance or packaging of the product.

Consumers tend to consider items that are widely available and off-the-shelf as harmless, although these can be particularly dangerous, especially to children.

The Health Office has concluded that it is necessary to increase public awareness of the new labelling system.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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