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toys – Think before you buy

Are your child’s toys really safe?

Our children are surrounded with many different toys from the very beginning of their lives. Many toys contain man-made chemicals which can be hazardous for the children’s health.

The problem

Many toys contain synthetic substances that are known to be hazardous to children’s health. These include softeners used in plastic toys, which can disrupt the hormone system, formaldehyde used in glued wooden puzzles, which can cause cancer, or flame retardants used in teddy bears, which can adversely affect a child’s development. Independent tests confirm that almost all of these hazardous chemicals can be substituted by safer alternatives.

Children are much more sensitive than adults to exposure to toxic chemicals due to their larger skin surface relative to their weight, higher respiratory volume and higher metabolism rate; they absorb more toxic substances than adults. Their immune and nervous systems are still developing and their detoxification systems are not fully functional. In addition, a baby’s skin is considerably thinner than that of adults and the skin is not yet developed enough to act as a barrier. Children are exposed to a multitude of hazardous chemicals from different sources, not only from skin care products and toys but also from everyday products like clothing, food or furniture.

Some hazardous substances, in particular endocrine system disruptors, may cause severe effects even if humans are exposed to very low amounts.

WHY ARE CHILDREN PARTICULARY VULNERABLE?

Tips & Tricks

Possible health effects

Children are in very close contact with their toys and frequently put them into their mouth. Therefore, it is very likely that hazardous chemicals in the toys may enter the body of the child. Children will not poison themselves from toys. But they start collecting substances in their body, which over time and when accumulating, may cause serious health problems, such as cancer or reproductive disorders. The fertility of young men and young women is suspected to decrease, among other due to exposure to chemicals, which may also be contained in toys.

Uses

Various dyes and pigments

Hazardous chemicals

Aniline

Possible health effects

Very toxic, carcinogenic and mutagenic

Used in products

Dolls

Uses

Various dyes and pigments

Hazardous chemicals

Azocolourants

Possible health effects

Carcinogenic, causes allergies

Used in products

Dolls, cuddly toys, wooden toys, plastic

Uses

Dyes and pigments: create the red, orange, and yellow pigments

Hazardous chemicals

Cadmium

Possible health effects

Carcinogenic, toxic by inhalation, impairs fertility, disrupts development of children’s brains

Used in products

Dolls, wooden toys, plastic

Uses

Dyes and pigments: create the green, orange, and yellow pigments

Hazardous chemicals

Chromium

Possible health effects

Carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic: causes severe burns, impairs fertility.

Used in products

Dolls, cuddly toys, wooden toys, electronic toys

Uses

Fire retardant

Hazardous chemicals

Brominated flame retardants

Possible health effects

Persistent, bio-accumulative, toxic; some kinds are also classified as carcinogenic, toxic, disrupting the reproductive system; some disrupt the hormone system

Used in products

Dolls, cuddly toys, plastic, electronic toys

Uses

Bind pigments to the cloth. Fire retardant. Wrinkle resistance. Water repellence. Adhesive in wood products

Hazardous chemicals

Formaldehydes and formaldehyde releasers (e.g. benzylhemiformal, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin).

Possible health effects

Irritates mucous membranes and skin, can cause hypersensitivity, carcinogenic (nasal pathway)

Used in products

Cuddly and wooden toys

Uses

Water, grease and soil repellence

Hazardous chemicals

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFC)

Possible health effects

Carcinogenic, disrupts fertility

Used in products

Dolls, cuddly toys

Uses

A main component in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics, epoxies, and epoxy resin

Hazardous chemicals

Bisphenol-A (BPA)

Possible health effects

Disrupts the reproductive and hormone system, and increases the risk of cance

Used in products

Dolls, plastic, electronic toys

Uses

Plastic stabiliser. Surfactant in processing textiles

Hazardous chemicals

Nonylphenol(ethoxylates)

Possible health effects

Endocrine disruptor, persistent, accumulates in the environment

Used in products

Dolls, cuddly toys, plastic

Uses

Plastic stabiliser, usually found in clear plastic

Hazardous chemicals

Organotin compounds

Possible health effects

Irritates the eyes and skin, toxic to the reproductive system, if ingested is harmful to the central nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive system.

Used in products

Dolls, cuddly toys, wooden toys, plastic

Uses

Plasticiser

Hazardous chemicals

Chlorinated paraffins

Possible health effects

Carcinogenic, disrupts the hormone system

Used in products

Dolls, plastic, electronic toys

Uses

Plasticiser, usually found in soft plastic, pellets for stuffing cuddly toys. Can also be used as a synthetic fragrance compound in scented toys

Hazardous chemicals

Phthalates

Possible health effects

Disrupts development and the hormone system Impairs fertility

Used in products

Dolls, cuddly toys, plastic and electronic toys

Uses

Antibacterial agent

Hazardous chemicals

Triclosan

Possible health effects

Can cause allergies and bacterial resistance, disrupts the endocrine system

Used in products

Dolls, cuddly toys and plastic