Test: Silicone vibrators release volatile organic compounds

15. jun 2020

A vibrator is in contact with the body's sensitive areas and it should not contain problematic chemicals. See the test of 9 silicone vibrators.

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Test: Silicone vibrators release volatile organic compounds
Photo: The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Sex toys are in contact with the body's sensitive areas

You can find unwanted chemicals in many of the products that you use in your daily life. The chemicals in your products are often good and useful. However, some chremicals are problematic, and can be suspected endocrine disruptors, among other things.

Endocrine disruptors can impair the ability to have children and have other unwanted health effects. Cosmetics, food packaging and electronics in the home are all examples of products that in some cases can expose you to these chemicals.

Sex toys like vibrators or dildos are in close contact with the body's sensitive areas. It is possible that mucous membranes absorb more chemical substances than the skin.

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

Laboratory tests examine silicone content

The vibrators in the test are all made of silicone. Silicone contains a number of chemicals called cyclic siloxanes. These can be problematic for both the environment and health.

In a laboratory test, The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has examined the silicone in the vibrators. The products were tested for these problematic siloxanes:

•Cyclotetrasiloxane (D4)

•Cyclopentasiloxane (D5)

•Cyclohexasiloxane (D6)

We found only small quantities of unwanted chemicals in vibrators

The silicone substances above are on the EU list of Substances of Very High Concern (the so-called Candidate List). This is because they are harmful to the environment. They do not decompose. They spread over long distances in the wild and can accumulate in animals.

One of the silicone substances (D4) is harmful to reproduction and two are suspected of being endocrine disruptors (D4 and D5).

The test shows that all the vibrators contain siloxanes. However, the content is so limited that in itself it does not constitute a cause for concern. The exposure will be greater from e.g. cosmetics or lube.

See all tests from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

The test shows release of "volatile substances" in all vibrators

The test shows that all vibrators and dildos release so-called volatile compounds. In other words, the vibrators release chemical substances. The test cannot show which kind of substances the vibrators release.

The volatiles are probably not problematic for your health. However, it is undesirable that products emit chemicals when they are in close contact with the body's sensitive areas.

For example, the vibrators tested do not meet the recommendations that apply to the silicone intended for contact with food and drink.

3 vibrators in the test are perfumed

Perfume can cause allergies. It is therefore generally a good idea to reduce use of perfume in products if you want to minimize the risk of perfume allergies.

In the test, 3 vibrators clearly smell perfumed (Lelo, We-vibe and Smile makers). The package does not state that the products are perfumed. Ask your dealer or manufacturer if you want to avoid perfume.

In the test, a single product had a strong chemical smell. If you find, that a product has a strong chemical smell, leave it to "evaporate" for a few weeks before you use it.

If it has a persistent strong chemical smell, contact the manufacturer to clarify whether this can be right.

About the test

How we tested


In spring 2020, The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals purchased vibrators on Danish websites and sent them for laboratory tests. All the selected products have silicone on the outside.

 

What we found


None of the products contained large quantities of problematic chemicals.                     

Siloxanes

Various so-called cyclic siloxanes have been tested for. The levels found were:

Cyclotetrasiloxane (D4) 31 to 240 milligrams per kilo and a single below detection limit.

Cyclopentasiloxane (D5) 180 to 610 milligrams per kilo.

Cyclohexasiloxane (D6) 470 to 810 milligrams per kilo.

Volatile organic compounds

The volatile organic compounds were tested in the same manner as food contact materials made of silicone. The material was weighed, heated and then weighed again.

The tests showed evaporation of 1.1 to 1.7 percent. The recommendation for food contact materials is less than 0.5 percent.

The test does not show which substances evaporate from the material.

Peroxide and PAH

No peroxide and PAH were measured.

Perfume

Three products were perfumed. They had a distinct scent of perfume.

The test shows no cause for concern. Nevertheless, The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals is urging manufacturers to work on reducing the volatile substances in the silicone as well as the use of siloxanes.

Choose the right lube

Be aware that not all kinds of lubes can be used with sex toys. Especially silicone-based lube should not be used with silicone sex toys.

Water-based is often a good choice. Follow the instructions on the products.

Read about the test of lubes

What the companies say

Belladot

We take any potential human or environmental risk seriously. Belladot products complies with the REACH-Directive which is the actual European legislation for SVHC-compounds/candidates. We comply with each limit/level in the present candidate list.

 

WOW Tech (responsible for We-vibe rave vibrator)

The limits of VOC, as given by BfR, are the recommended limits for food contact materials. Despite not having food contact products, for our toys, we choose silicones that were tested and found to comply with those high standards. The siloxanes tested according to REACh SVHC, are found to comply with the legal limits and recommendations. Besides that, we continuously strive to improve the materials and manufacturing processes to ensure that the products remain safe.

Comment from The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals: In the test, the product did not comply with BfR's limits for the release of volatile organic compounds for food contact materials.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals’ test methods