A joint enforcement project undertaken by the Nordic countries has found hazardous substances in over one-fifth of free promotional items tested. According to the Norwegian Environment Agency, inspectors found restricted substances above the limit mostly in soft plastic gadgets – due to the presence of softeners, like DEHP and SCCPs – as well as in toys, and electrical and electronic products.
The detected items contained either restricted substances in concentrations exceeding limit values or those on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs in concentrations over 0.1%. A final report of the joint enforcement project will be published this month (May 2019).
A database of over 4,000 chemical substances potentially found in plastic packaging, has been made publicly available. The Chemicals associated with Plastic Packaging (CPP) database (see CW; CRM) is the outcome of a collaboration between seven NGOs and research organisations in Europe and the US. The work has been submitted to Science of the Total Environment, and is now available, prior to peer review, as a preprint. The database is provided with the preprint as supplementary information.
EU member approved the proposal to restrict the phthalates DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP in articles. The four phthalates are on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs for their reprotoxic as well as endocrine disrupting properties. Under the proposal they would be restricted to a concentration equal to or below 0.1% by weight individually or in any combination in any plasticised material in articles used by consumers or those used in indoor areas. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers now have three months to scrutinise the measure and the restriction will then be published in the EU’s Official Journal and will apply 18 months after the entry into force to products produced both in and outside of the EU.
Vermont governor Phil Scott has vetoed a bill that would have given the state's health department increased latitude to ban or restrict children's products.
Bill S103, passed by the legislature earlier this month, sought to amend the state's existing children's product reporting scheme (Act 188).
Ukraine has adopted legislation aimed at harmonising its toy safety regulation with that of the European Union. Cabinet ministers approved the new Technical Regulation on the Safety of Toys in February. It becomes effective on 21 September. The law establishes requirements on the safety of toys and their placement on the market, and defines the obligations of manufacturers, importers and distributors. It replaces the existing regulation, which was approved in 2013 and took into account the EU's 2009 Toy Safety Directive. The EU has subsequently made a number of amendments to its legislation. Ukraine's latest regulation slightly diverges from the EU Directive, in that it applies to products that have been developed or intended for children up to 14 years of age.
The toy industry has assured consumers that risk from chemicals in secondhand plastic toys is low, following a study in the UK that revealed the presence of hazardous elements. Research carried out at the University of Plymouth tested 200 toys from schools, charity shops and family homes for the presence of: antimony; arsenic; barium; cadmium; chromium; lead; mercury; selenium; and bromine (as a proxy for brominated flame retardants).
US chain store Target has removed two fidget spinner models from sale, after a study from NGO the US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) study found they contained high levels of lead. The federal legal limit is 100 parts per million (ppm) for lead in children’s products, but fidget spinners are classified by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) as general use rather than as children’s products. They are only considered toys if labelled age 12 and under.
Trade association Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) welcomed the European Commission's final Opinion on the tolerable intake of aluminium, with regards to adapting the migration limits in toys. The Commission and its Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (Scheer) Opinion recommends a tolerable daily intake of aluminium, including from sources other than toys, of 0.3mg/kg of body weight per day.
Over the last decade, an unprecedented amount of information about chemical hazards and exposure has been collected and stored in the databases of Echa. Echa has been taking research on the substances could be confidently categorised as high priority substances with likely hazards and likely exposure during use. But there are still 3,000 substances in what the agency describes as a ‘grey zone’ where it has insufficient information to make a determination about the risks they pose.
The Marketplace, launched by NGO ChemSec on 17 May, hosts marketing materials from suppliers and requests for products, as well as guidance and case studies on substitution. It makes it easier for businesses to find less problematic alternatives to toxic chemicals. Both the ChemSec and other initiatives had hitherto focused on informing the industry of what not to use, as described in its ‘SIN list’, rather than suggesting suitable substitutes. The Marketplace should help improve the visibility of alternatives.
China’s National Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently consulted on a draft list of substance restrictions in consumer products. The list combines a number of existing Chinese standards and, where no domestic standard exists, it refers to restrictions based on EU and other foreign legislation. The draft is similar to the consumer restrictions set out in REACH Annex XVII - includes 103 chemicals and proposes limit values for their use in consumer products, such as toys, textiles, coatings, paints, decoration materials and furniture.
Greenpeace is campaigning for a ban on phthalates in toys marketed in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) countries of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Phthalates is a family of toxic, synthetic, high production volume industrial chemicals used mostly to make plastics softer and more flexible. (Relevant story: NRDC and Scientists Urge CPSC to Finalize Phthalate Bans)
Turkey's customs and trade ministry has amended the recently adopted Regulation on toy safety. The most significant change is a large reduction of the metal content in toys. The Regulation now provides an exemption for nickel used in toys, or their components, made of stainless steel that are intended to conduct an electric current. The amendments also comprise specific limit values for certain substances in toys intended for children under 36 months and in other toys intended to be placed in the mouth.
The OECD has launched version four of its Qsar Toolbox, with some features designed specifically for companies looking to register substances under REACH ahead of the 2018 deadline. Echa head Geert Dancet used the agency's stakeholders day to remind companies planning to register substances under next year's deadline that they must pre-register their substances by 31 May this year.
China's food packaging regulations, announced in November 2016, will take effect on 19 October this year. Violations can result in fines of 20 times the commodity value for manufacturers or importers using unapproved materials, and up to ten times the value for food producers or operators using non-compliant products. However, the clearances for food contact materials (FCMs) could be very different from the substances approved in the EU – many substances currently permitted in the US and Europe are not yet cleared under the Chinese system.
Unilever US has announced plans to provide consumers with information about specific fragrance ingredients, used in its personal care products. The company has also announced plans to launch a webpage called What’s In Our Products. This will provide additional information, including its approach to developing safe products, explanation of ingredient types and answers to common questions on SmartLabel. NGOs said it’s game-changing for the personal care industry but criticised the plan for not including a full list of all fragrance ingredients.
Three NGOs in US have filed a lawsuit to compel the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to finalise a rule banning five phthalates in children’s products. The commission issued a proposed rule in late 2014 to ban five phthalates in children’s toys, at levels greater than 0.1%. They were diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP); di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP); di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP); dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP); and diisononyl phthalate (DINP). The CPSC was required to publish the final rule within 180 days of the CHAP’s report on 14 January 2015. But the lawsuit states that the agency has missed this deadline by almost two years.