Hazardous Chemicals Detected in Various Consumer Products

Hazardous Chemicals Detected in Various Consumer Products

Author: ChemistryViews

An EU-wide enforcement project by the ECHA Forum has found excessive levels of hazardous chemicals, such as lead and phthalates, in products sold to consumers. National enforcement authorities in 26 EU countries tested more than 2,400 products in 2022, most of them intended for consumers, and found more than 400 of them in breach of EU chemicals legislation.
The Enforcement Project checked whether different types of products sold to consumers and professional users in the European Economic Area (EEA) market complied with EU chemicals legislation. The project covered REACH restrictions, REACH obligations on substances in articles, POPs restrictions, which ban or restrict the use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in both chemical products and articles, and restrictions arising from the Toys Directive and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive.

In total, 18 % of the products tested were found to be in breach of EU legislation. The compliance rate for articles was 20 %, and for mixtures it was 9 %. The mixtures with the highest non-compliance rate were paint strippers (38 %) containing dichloromethane, followed by glues (12 %) containing toluene and chloroform. The most common product types were:

  • Electrical equipment such as electrical toys, chargers, cables, headphones. 52 % of these products were found to be non-compliant, mostly due to lead in solders, phthalates in soft plastic parts, or cadmium in circuit boards.
  • Sports equipment such as yoga mats, cycling gloves, balls, or rubber grips of sports equipment. 18 % of these products were found to be non-compliant, mostly due to short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) and phthalates in soft plastics and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in rubber.
  • Toys such as bath/water toys, dolls, costumes, play mats, plastic figures, fidget toys, outdoor toys, slime, and childcare articles. 16 % of non-electric toys were found to be non-compliant, mostly due to phthalates in soft plastic parts, but also due to other restricted substances such as PAHs, nickel, boron, or nitrosamines.
  • Fashion products such as bags, jewelry, belts, shoes, and clothing. 15 % of these products were found to be non-compliant due to the presence of phthalates, lead, and cadmium.

In cases where non-compliant products were found, inspectors took enforcement action, most of which resulted in the withdrawal of such products from the market. The enforcement project found that the non-compliance rate was higher for products originating outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or whose origin was unknown. This result varies little to the results seen in previous REF projects.




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