Inspectors find phthalates in toys and asbestos in second-hand products

European Chemicals Agency's picture

ECHA/PR/18/04

In an EU/EEA-wide project of ECHA’s Enforcement Forum, inspectors found hundreds of consumer products with illegal amounts of restricted chemicals. Every fifth toy inspected contained high levels of restricted phthalates.

Helsinki, 13 February 2018 - The project report shows a relatively high number of products on the European market containing chemicals that are restricted under REACH. Inspectors in 27 European countries checked 1 009 mixtures, 4 599 articles and 17 substances. Overall, out of 5 625 targeted product checks, 18 % did not comply with the restrictions.

The most frequent breaches were: phthalates in toys (20 % of inspected toys contained Bis(2-ethylhexyl) (DEHP), Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) at levels above those permitted), cadmium in brazing fillers (14 %) and asbestos fibres in products (14 %). The products containing asbestos – for example, catalytic heaters, thermos flasks, brake pads - were mostly second-hand and probably produced before the restrictions prohibiting the sale of products containing asbestos came into force.

Inspectors also found high concentrations of chromium VI in leather articles (13 % of the tested products) and cadmium in jewellery (12 %).

Overall, most of the breaches were found with products, which had origins that could not be identified (39 % of such products did not comply), followed by products imported from China (17 %).

The report highlights the companies’ responsibility to get information on the chemical composition of their products from their suppliers. This may also include proactively testing the products and making agreements between suppliers so that the chemical composition complies with the chemicals legislation. The enforcement authorities will continue enforcing REACH restrictions by analysing further products on the market.

 

Further information

Background information

Restrictions aim to protect human health and the environment from unacceptable risks posed by chemicals. Restrictions are normally used to limit or ban the manufacture, placing on the market (including imports) or use of a substance. They can also impose any relevant condition, such as requiring technical measures or specific labels.

Example of a restriction:

Under REACH, toys and childcare products that contain phthalates more than 0.1 % by weight that can be placed in the mouth by children are prohibited. The restriction of phthalates was put in place to protect children from the harmful effects of chemicals. Some phthalates are suspected of being toxic for reproduction and endocrine-disrupting.

Corrigendum: We removed the final paragraph that was published in error and not related to this content.

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