Loom bands: Doctors warn parents about the risks of popular toy at Christmas

Four children were treated in hospital in just one week after inhaling the rubber bands, proving they're more dangerous than you think

Linda Sharkey
Thursday 25 December 2014 13:48 GMT
A girl shows off her loom band designs
A girl shows off her loom band designs (EPA)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Loom bands are on many children’s Christmas present list this year, but doctors have warned parents that they are more dangerous they think.

According to an article in the Journal of Laryngology & Otology, four children were treated at a Scottish hospital in just one week after they inhaled rubber bands and became stuck.

The report's authors said: "Although the four cases presented were resolved without the need for general anaesthetic, the ever-soaring prevalence and popularity of loom bands necessitates a degree of caution and vigilance from parents, retailers and manufacturers alike.

"We believe there is an urgent need for greater public awareness of their potential hazards."

Furthermore, a study by the ENT Department Monklands Hospital in Airdrie urged parents to be aware of the potential risks and to keep a careful eye on young children playing with the colourful rubber bands.

Dress made entirely of loom bands
Dress made entirely of loom bands (eBay/helenwright1972)

Not only can children inhale loom bands and get them stuck in their nasal passages, which can prove fatal, but the popular toys contain a 40 per cent of the chemical phthalates, that’s 500 times the legal level, completely flouting the UK’s legal limit.

Phthalates is used to soften plastic, but it can disrupt children’s hormones. Earlier this year leading toy retailer The Entertainer was forced to remove the loom band charms from its stores after it was revealed they contained the suspected carcinogenic chemicals.

Bikini made of loom bands, but it's not be the most practical choice for you beach holiday
Bikini made of loom bands, but it's not be the most practical choice for you beach holiday (eBay/ukcharlie78)

Speaking to the BBC, tester Marion Wilson said: “Pthalates will get into your system through sucking and obviously a charm hanging off a bracelet is a very high risk item, a thing most likely to suck just as you're fiddling with it.”

Back in summer the world became obsessed with the colourful rubber bands, with celebrities and royals such as Duchess of Cambridge, David Beckham and Harry Style wearing them and therefore increasing its popularity.

The global loom band craze consisted in different coloured band being woven together to create bracelets and even clothing, from bikinis to a dress. It originated in the United States in 2011 but became increasingly popular in Britain this year.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in