Test of phthalates in LED Christmas lights

16. dec 2019

LED light chains are popular during Christmas time. A test from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals shows that endocrine disrupting phthalates can still be found in some string lights. Older light chains are also likely to contain the unwanted substances.

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Test of phthalates in LED Christmas lights
Photo: The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Most LED Christmas lights are without unwanted chemicals

At Christmas time LED light chains bring a lovely atmosphere to your home with warm white light during the long dark evenings. The test of LED Christmas lights shows that most of the string lights are without unwanted phthalates.

Phthalates are plastic softeners which can be endocrine disrupting. Phthalates in LED Christmas lights are therefore unwanted chemicals. 6 out of 8 tested products were without phthalates.

Phthalates can migrate out of the plastic light chains into the indoor climate and end up in the dust in your home. Danish investigations have shown high levels of phthalates in indoor climates in private homes and kindergartens.

In general it is advisable to minimise the amount of endocrine disrupting phthalates in your everyday life, especially if the LED lights are indoors in your home for an extended period of time.

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

Two Christmas lights contained endocrine disrupting phthalates

The test showed that a couple of LED string lights contained the endocrine disrupting phthalate DEHP. These products receive the lowest score in the test (C-score).

One set of string lights with phthalates will not in itself constitute a health risk. However, in general scientists on the subject recommend minimising the risk of endocrine disrupting effects – the cocktail effect – by avoiding these chemicals when possible.

Minimise the amount of phthalates in your home by ventilating thoroughly with fresh air several times daily and vacuum clean and remove dust often.

See all our tests of the chemicals in consumer products

Unwanted phthalates are forbidden in light chains

The phthalate DEHP is one of the phthalates that are banned in new string lights and other electronics. They are only allowed in amounts up to 0.1 percent.

The ban went into effect in the summer of 2019 as a part of the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). The ban does not include electronic products which were already on the market before that. In July 2020 a general ban on phthalates in most consumer products will take effect, including products already on the market.

Older Christmas string lights are likely to contain phthalates. If you want to minimise the amount of phthalates in your home, consider buying new phthalate free LED Christmas lights.