It has long been known that several chemicals used in plastic toys in different parts of the world can be harmful to human health. However, it is difficult for parents to figure out how to avoid plastic toys containing chemicals that may cause possible health risks to their children.
Regulations and labelling schemes are different across regions and countries, and there is no international agreement on which substances should be banned from use in toy materials. For the most part, regulations and international lists of ‘chemicals of concern’ in toys focus on certain substance groups with known harmful properties, such as phthalates, but do not cover the wider range of chemicals found in plastic toys.
Researchers from DTU and the University of Michigan together with UN Environment have looked into this important issue, analyzed data on chemical functions and amounts found in plastic toys, and quantified related children exposure and potential health risks. They ranked the chemicals according to their health risk and compared these results with existing priority substances lists from around the world. The study has been published with open access in the journal Environment International.
“Out of 419 chemicals found in hard, soft and foam plastic materials used in children toys, we identified 126 substances that can potentially harm children’s health either via cancer or non-cancer effects, including 31 plasticizers, 18 flame retardants, and 8 fragrances…