Test: Fidget spinners can contain unwanted chemicals above legal limits

8. sep 2017

A test of 12 fidget spinners from the Danish market showed products with content of lead and release of nickel above the permitted limit values for toys.

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Test: Fidget spinners contain unwanted chemicals above legal limits
Photo: The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Fidget spinners: 8 are good choices

If you play with fidget spinners, you are likely to be in close and long-term skin contact with them.

Therefore the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has tested 12 different fidget spinners for contents of problematic chemicals including phthalates, PAH's and heavy metals. Hand spinners made of metal and plastic were tested.

8 of the tested products did not contain unwanted chemicals and none of them had easy access to the battery.

See the full test with product pictures (link to the test in Danish).

Lead: 10 times above permitted limit value

2 of the tested metal fidget spinners showed high content of lead. In both cases the lead content was approximately 10 times above the permitted limit for toys to which fidget spinners should apply.

Lead is very toxic to both humans and the environment. It accumulates in the body and can damage the nervous system. Especially fetuses and children are vulnerable as the substance can cause decreased brain function and lower intelligence.

Nickel: 3 fidget spinners releases the allergenic metal

Nickel can cause allergy. The allergy may develop when you have skin contact with products that release nickel.

A limit value for the release of nickel exist for products like fidget spinners where long-term skin contact is expected.

3 fidget spinners showed excessive release of nickel. That includes the 2 metal fidget spinners that also contained lead as well as a third fidget spinner also made of metal.

LED-lights: Battery too easy to remove

Some fidget spinners are equipped with LED lights. In one of the tested products, the small button cell battery was too easy to remove.

Easy access to batteries in toys pose a threat to children, because they may swallow the battery, which is a serious health risk.

Batteries in toys should only be accessible by using tools or by performing two independent actions at the same time.

Follow up: Notification to the Danish authorities

Some retailers reported to the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals that they have stopped selling the fidget spinners after receiving the test results.

Furthermore, the 3 fidget spinners with chemicals above the legal limits and the one with the battery failure have been notified to the Chemical Inspection at the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

­CE marking is missing on many fidget spinners

CE marking on toys are compulsory. The CE mark is the manufacturers’ guarantee that the toy complies with the rules applicable to toys.

The CE mark was missing on half of the tested fidget spinners, but there was no correlation between the CE marking and the content of unwanted chemicals. The 3 fidget spinners with high levels of unwanted chemicals all had the CE marking.

The fidget spinner with the easily accessible battery was not labelled with a CE mark.

See the full test with product pictures (link to the test in Danish).

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals: The CE mark is no guarantee

"The test has confirmed our immediate concern in relation to the very large and sudden demand for fidget spinners. The risk is that the manufacturers and retailers fail to ensure that the products comply with the toy safety rules before they are sold to consumers. It would be easy if we could just recommend parents to look for toys carrying the manufacturers own label of compliance, the so-called CE marking. Unfortunately, our test shows us that we cannot. 3 of the notified products are CE-marked. As long as there is no actual control, the CE mark does not provide any guarantee to the consumers.”

Stine Müller, Project Manager and Test Officer in the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals.

For further questions contact project manager Stine Müller on sm@fbr.dk.

The Danish EPA will perform a market surveillance

After the publication of the test of the fidget spinners the Danish Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will perform a market surveillance on the toys.