You Asked: Are foam puzzle mats toxic for children?

matsThere was a question about the possible toxicity of the popular foam puzzle mats that children play with and on. The concern is about exposure to formamide being released. This chemical is used in the manufacture of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foamed plastics to make them more pliable. It’s a liquid, but like any liquid formamide does evaporate. There is no question that exposure to the liquid should be avoided; it is corrosive and has been linked to problems in a developing embryo. But the small amounts that outgas from foam present a totally different situation. The vapour dissipates quite quickly but nevertheless French and Belgian authorities deemed some levels unacceptable and established limits of formamide release from foams used in childrens’ play mats and toys. Studies, however, show that outgasing drops off very quickly and the amounts that could conceivably be inhaled by children playing on EVA foam mats are way below levels that could cause health issues. I certainly wouldn’t let my grandson play on an EVA mat, which he does quite often, if I thought there was any risk.


Joe Schwarcz

One response to “You Asked: Are foam puzzle mats toxic for children?”

  1. Ethan Phan says:

    A lot of customers were concern after France and Belgium issued a ban on EVA foam mats. However, these two countries have reversed the ban and reduced the restriction limit to >200 mg/kg on how much formamide foam mats can contain instead. Keep in mind that no other countries have banned or set restrictions on formamide.

    Australia conducted their own test on formamide in foam mats and have found no health risk, you can read the article in the following link:

    All our mats have pass and exceed all US regulations.

    Our standard mats have not been specifically tested for formamide as we are not required nor any real tests show that it is a safety concern to children. According to our manufacturer in Taiwan, our standard mats meet the formamide limit set by France at >100 mg/kg. In order to better serve our concerned customers, we have brought in formamide non-detectable mats. You can find the reports in the following link:

    Please note we do NOT plan on carrying these formamide ND mats in the future so supply is limited. It is too costly(to manufacture and for our customers as well), low demand, have not been proven to be a health risk to children nor is required by country other than France and Belgium.

    Let me know if you have any more questions regarding formamide or foam mats in general.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.

Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.