Test shows phthalates and perfume in toy dolls

13. dec 2019

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has tested 20 dolls for unwanted chemicals. The test showed that 6 out of 20 dolls contain substances of concern. The dolls were bought in local shops, bigger retailers as well as through online platforms such as Wish and Amazon.

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Test of chemicals in dolls
Photo: The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Banned phthalates found in 3 dolls

Phthalates are plasticisers used to soften plastic. Several phthalates are known to be reprotoxic and endocrine disturbing, and a range of phthalates have been EU regulated in toys since 2007.

The test showed that 3 dolls contained banned phthalates. Up to 11.4 percent of the phthalate DEHP and 1.8 percent DINP were found in the dolls. Also smaller amounts of DBP og DIDP were found. The phthalates were found in 2 dolls bought in small local shops in Denmark and in one of the dolls from the online platform Wish. No phthalates were found in dolls from larger brands or retailers.

Children can be exposed to phthalates from dolls, because of the close contact when they have when playing with the doll. But the phthalates also migrate to the air and dust. Studies have shown, that childrens bedrooms may contain high amounts of phthalates in the dust and air. This means that the children also are exposed to the phtalates, even without direct contact to the doll.

See all our tests of the chemicals in consumer products

Perfume: Avoid scented dolls

3 dolls in the test were clearly scented with perfume. One doll with perfume was bought in Denmark, and the other two were from Wish and Amazon.

Skin contact with toys containing perfume add to the risk of developing lifelong perfume allergy. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency advises parents to choose toys without perfume.

Test Results

Dolls free from problematic substances in the test (A-score):

  • Newborn Baby Annabell
  • Bayer My first baby
  • Happy Friend Clara
  • Our Generation Elisabeth Ann
  • Disney Frozen (jakks) Toddler Elsa
  • Barbie doll
  • Imagi First baby doll
  • Baby Born Soft touch Boy
  • Götz Muffin to dress
  • Free & Easy Styling Model
  • Amazon - New York doll Soft Body Vinyl doll
  • Light in the box - Kidding best for you
  • Wish - Oubeier doll / Handmade reborn baby doll
  • Wish - Tusalmo Nathaniel Doll

Dolls with phthalates (C-score):

  • Every Girls Dream Angel Girl
  • Chao Chao doll
  • Wish - wanJu doll ("Frozen")

Dolls with perfume (C-score):

  • Corolle Babydoll Paloma (vanilla scent mentioned on package)
  • Amazon - Cabbage Patch Kids Naptime babies (no labeling of perfume)
  • Wish - NPK Doll / Reborn baby doll (no labeling of perfume)

See the test with pictures (in Danish)

The Danish Consumer Council calls for ingredient lists on toys

When shopping for toys, it is not easy for the consumers to know if a product contains unwanted chemicals.

Often distributers and retailer are not aware of the possible problematic content in their toys either. The last couple of years several tests have shown that toys can contain chemicals that are not allowed. Examples include  squishies, play slime, balloons, balls and fidget spinners.

The Danish Consumer Council are calling for labelling of toys and products for children similar to what is required for cosmetics, personal care products and food.

If toys had an ingredient list, it would be far simpler for both retailers and consumers to avoid phthalates and perfume.

The Danish Minister of the Environment, Lea Wermelin, has previously declared in a press release, that she is working for an EU requirement on product declaration of toys.

”As a parent you should be able to safely buy toys for your children. That is why I am working for product declaration on toys in the EU, so that the parents are able to see, which chemicals are found in the toys they buy for their children, and so that importers can make requirements to the toy producers,” the minister said in august 2019.