Plasticizers, toxins, small parts: at the start of the pre-christmas season, environmental and consumer protection experts warn against dangerous children's toys.
"The most problematic toys are those made of plastic," said tatiana santos of the european environment bureau (EEB) in brussel on thursday. Especially from china came a lot of toys with harmful chemicals. Meps expect the new EU commission to act quickly.
According to the environmental association EEB – based on information from the europe-wide rapid alert system for dangerous products (rapex) – around 250 toy models have already been withdrawn from the market during the course of the year after tests revealed alarming chemical concentrations. A good four out of five of them came from china.
According to the european consumer association beuc, problematic products in germany include dolls and action figures. In italy, questionable paint pens were found, in denmark, consumer organizations discovered contaminated balloons.
Rapex allows individual countries to share information on dangerous products, which can then be withdrawn from the entire EU market. According to rapex, a good 45 percent of all cases recorded in the current year involved risks due to the chemicals they contain. Phthalates – plasticizers used in plastics – were the main focus here. In addition to harmful chemicals, toys with choking hazards played a particularly important role. 11 percent of the traps also involved batteries that were too easy to access.
Beyond the problem traps identified, however, environmentalists are concerned about the potential number of unreported cases. "Where inspectors get the resources they need, they do an excellent job," EEB chemicals expert santos continued. The question, however, is how many toxic toys entered the EU unnoticed. "Importers of chinese goods must exert significantly more pressure on their suppliers," she demanded.
In this context, beuc also warned against careless online shopping. Customers are advised to avoid unlabeled products. When buying from chinese internet sites, one should also avoid electronic devices, clothing or toys that are disproportionately cheap, explained beuc spokesman laurens rutten.
Cautionary voices also came from the european parliament. "Black friday" is becoming increasingly popular as a kick-off to the christmas shopping season in germany and europe as well. However, it is important to keep an eye out when buying gifts," said SPD consumer protection expert evelyne gebhardt. "Too often manufacturers from china or other countries disregard european consumer protection requirements. Children's toy phones are often too noisy and can cause harm to the ear."
"Parts of too many plastic toys can easily break off and injure children. Wooden toys are still too often painted with paint whose toxic ingredients violate european approval rules," gebhardt continued. "Rapex records more than ten new reports of dangerous toys in the eu every week," she said. "I expect the new eu commission to take a strong stand on product safety." The eu commission of the new president ursula von der leyen (cdu) is scheduled to meet on 1. December start. The authority is primarily responsible in the EU for proposing new laws and for monitoring EU legislation in the individual states.
Green european deputy sven giegold said: "toxic endocrine disruptors have no place in toys. Europe needs an action plan to remove toxins from our daily lives."Moreover, the enforcement of applicable law must be more sharply controlled by brussel. "We cannot ban dangerous chemicals in europe and at the same time allow toxic imports from china".