The Latest on EVA Foam Puzzle Mats and Why They’re Still Not Safe For Your Baby

We wanted to give you our latest update on the EVA (Ethylenvinylacetat) Foam Puzzle Mats. We were the first blog in the US reporting the recall on EVA foam mats last year and we have received plenty of emails from you all since.

EVA can be produced very cheaply, that’s why it’s so widely used in products ranging from foam mats, bath toys to flip flops and more. Formamide doesn’t smell, is easily absorbed through breathing, skin contact or mouth.

Weekly emails  from our readers are consistently asking us if a particular foam mat found online or at a store is SAFE. We also receive many emails from EVA foam puzzle mat manufacturers, resellers and distributors,  assuring us that their foam mats are safe AND asking us to update our chart. DON’T STOP READING HERE…..

Why the Formamide Free Statement Is Meaningless

We actually decided NOT TO update our chart, as the whole ‘formamide free’ statement is meaningless. Formamide is usually tested to ONLY a certain level (10mg/kg) and if it passes that level, then test results say ‘PASS’ which translates to ‘formamide free’.  At this time, there is NO 100% formamide FREE  EVA foam puzzle mat. The government doesn’t regulate Formamide in the US.  What also stinks (literally) is that most of the mats are sold in packaging made of toxic PVC!

So please no more emails from manufacturers regarding us updating our chart and stating your mat is “safe” unless it is a mat that does not contain EVA foam!

I am closely following the latest news on Formamide in Foam Puzzle Mats in Europe, and came across an extensive Test Report by OEKO-TEST Magazine in Germany, done in June 2011. OEKO-TEST took a very close look at foam mats and had them thoroughly tested.

Who is OEKO TEST Magazine?

OEKO-TEST is a independent and very reputable consumer watchdog magazine that evaluates and ranks various consumer products for its effect on health & environment. It is similar to Consumer Reports in the US, but with a much stronger emphasis on consumer safety and health.

OEKO-TEST took matters in their own hands and had various foam mats extensively tested. They sent over 15 different foam mats by different manufacturers, also sold in the US, to  the lab for testing. Practically all foam mats are produced in China.

The detailed  OEKO-TEST Report on Foam Mat Results can be viewed and purchased here.

OEKO-TEST conclusion after reviewing the EVA foam puzzle mat test results:

Here is what Oeko Test concluded after they reviewed the test results:

  • No foam mat was free of Formamide and/or PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons), therefore we DO NOT recommend purchasing a foam mat.

  • PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) which can cause cancer has also been found in most of the foam mats in unacceptable levels unsafe for small children.

  • Foam Mats that don’t smell, still outgass. Airing the mat doesn’t help. TUEV Rheinland LGA, working with OEKO-TEST testing the foam mats aired the mat over a long period of time.

  • Children are under a current because the rough (top) part of the puzzle mat can emit an elevated level of electro static current of over 500 volt. The flat surface of the back of the mat is often even higher.


How did the Manufacturer react after Oeko Test’s test results?

Most of them said they’re working on a formamide free foam mat.

Can we trust a Formamide Free labeled EVA foam mat? No, you can’t be a 100% sure. OEKO Test said they will test each Foam Mat that’s labeled ‘formamide free’ to make sure it’s truthfully labeled.

NEW French Regulation on Formamide in Foam Puzzle Mats

The new regulations were published in the Official Journal of the French Republic (OJFR) on July 22, 2011. Foam Puzzle mats are still banned in France until at least July 20, 2012, unless the manufacturer, importer or distributor can demonstrate compliance with any one of three conditions below:

“Formamide shouldn’t be used in baby products. Formamide is more harmful than Phthalate.”
– Dr. Hermann Kurse, Toxicologist at the University of Kiel in Germany

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Comments (8)

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  1. Paul says:

    Great post, appreciate the info. Would love to hear about some recommended alternatives….

  2. Laura says:

    Thanks for this useful info – we’ve been considering purchasing a foam mat and have now decided against it. Like the previous comment, we would love to learn about alternatives.

  3. Kelli says:

    Thanks for the information, as we are looking into something like this right now. Please put up some alternatives…

  4. David says:

    HI Guys,

    I have just purchased some EVA Puzzle Mats and it was only after i purchased them from the Reject shop that i found out about these Concerns. I have since contacted the Reject Shop and they advise that they have been tested and that they are safe. Ive asked her to dig some more and get me some more definative information.

    Your thoughtsSafbaby,

  5. Ron Kenan says:

    We purchased an organic latex mat used for mattress padding. No chemicals. There are no colorful ABC’s, but if you are looking for a soft and safe surface to play on, especially pre-crawling, it’s great. We put a fresh sheet over it every day. While very comfy, it was a bit too thick and probably made it more difficult for the babies to learn how to crawl. I would look for something in 1″ or less thickness. We’ve just switched to an organic sheep’s wool (no chemicals) area rug. Stay vigilant.

  6. Haily says:

    How about wool carpet pads under a oraganic wool rug. I saw a girlfriend cut up carpet pads and place them under all her rugs for baby, though they weren’t health-safe. It was still a good idea. Thanks for all the info, I just stumbled upon your website and am so thankful for your information. We live in LA with our 11 month boy with multiple food allergies, eczema and who knows what else.

  7. […] Update November 29, 2011: The Latest on EVA Foam Puzzle Mats and Why They’re Still Not Safe For Your Baby […]

  8. Lian says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t know these mats were a health hazard. I had them a few years back but not anymore.