Test: School Bags

9. jul 2015

Children are in close contact with their school bags as well as they are with their toys. Nevertheless different rules apply to school bags when it comes to unwanted chemical substances. The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has tested 9 school bags for content of chemicals.

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Schoolbags with endocrine disrupting and cancer-causing substances
Photo: Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

School bags contain endocrine disrupting substances

3 school bags in the test contain phthalates which are suspected to be endocrine disrupting. That involves the school bags from Ticket to Heaven, Beckmann and the Danish supermarket chain Bilka. The total content of phthalates was between 2 and 4 per cent.

Most of the phthalates are on the EU’s list of substances of very high concern because they can be endocrine disrupting and damage the ability to reproduce.

Rules for toys ought to apply to school bags

School bags do not adhere to the same rules for phthalates that apply to toys.

In Denmark phthalates are prohibited in concentrations above 0.05 per cent in toys and items for children under the age of 3. In the EU some phthalates are banned in toys for children younger than 14 years. This goes for the phthalate DEHP that was found in the school bags from Ticket to Heaven and Beckmann.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals is of the opinion that the same rules ought to apply to school bags and toys. The children are in close contact with their school bags in the same manner as they are with their toys.

The school bags alone do not constitute a health risk for the children. But they contribute to the amassed amount of exposure to these substances. Consequently the exposure ought to be reduced as much as possible to safeguard the children from the harmful effects of these substances.

Cancer-causing substances found in the school bags

The 3 school bags with phthalates all contained the PAH naphthalene as well. Naphthalene is categorised as possibly cancer-causing. PAH’s – a tar substance – are pollutions that are found in the product.

The school bags from Lego and Alpine received an average assessment in the test due to a small amount of naphthalene.

Chlorinated paraffins – another group of substances – are on the Danish Environmental Protection Agency’s list of unwanted substances. They were found in the school bag from Beckmann and in smaller amounts in the bag from Ticket to Heaven.

Chlorinated paraffins are suspected to cause endocrine disruptions and to be cancer-causing.

Manufacturers stick to the rules

The 3 companies behind the failed school bags state to the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals that their products abide by the rules for chemicals in Denmark and the EU.

However, the owner of Ticket to Heaven, Hans Peter Høeg Larsen, adds that the company will bring the found substances into focus. The company will demand their supplier to replace materials in order to avoid these substances.

General Manager in Beckmann, Roy Kjøstvedt, also takes note of the results and states that the company will take action if the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals thinks that they can do even better.  

If you have any questions concerning the test, please contact project manager in the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals, Stine Müller on phone (0045) 41 94 79 06 or e-mail sm@fbr.dk.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals recommends 3 bags

  • Bergans 2Go
  • Ergobag Prime
  • JEVA Beginners

Translated from Danish by Niels Søndergaard