Test: Slime toys release unwanted chemicals

12. okt 2018

A test of 15 slime toys shows that 4 products release high levels of unwanted chemicals. The products have been reported to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

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Test: Slime toys releases unwanted chemicals
Photo: Anne Beck Christensen

Slime is a popular toy

Slime is a very popular toy among children and youngsters. Both DIY slime and ready-made slime toys have been big crazes.

However, investigations from both United Kingdom and Italy have shown problems with the chemicals in slime toys.

Therefore the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals tested 15 slime toys from Danish stores and online shops. The test examined whether the toys released the problematic substance boron.

Read about all tests of chemicals in consumer products

Slime contains unwanted chemicals

Manufacturers of slime can use so-called boron-compounds. These are for example the substances borax and boric acid.

These substances make the slime elastic and sticky. They also work as preservatives in the products.

Some of the boron compounds are on the EU candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHC). The reason for that is mainly that they can harm the unborn child and impair fertility.

Several boron-compounds are also linked with potential endocrine disrupting effects. Migration limits exist for boron in toys – this includes slime toys.

4 products notified to the authorities

In 4 products the level of migration of boron was higher than the legal limit in slime toys. The products have been notified to the Danish authorities.

The companies behind 2 of the slime toys have already stopped selling the products.

For the 2 other products, the companies explain that they do not consider their products slime toys. Instead they say that the products are modelling clay and therefore legal.

According to the EU toy legislation, the migration limits for of boron in modelling clay is than the limit values for slime toys.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals consider the products as slime toys based on their consistency. So does the test laboratory involved in the testing of the toys.

It is now up to the Danish authorities to assess whether or not the products comply with the rules.

If you have further questions contact project manager Stine Müller on sm@fbr.dk

How we tested

The Danish Consumer Council Think Chemicals bought 15 different types of slime toys in Danish stores and webshops.

The slime toys were subsequently sent to chemical analysis in an accredited laboratory and tested for the migration of certain elements, including boron. The content of boron compounds like Borax in the products was not assessed.

What we found

  • 9 products showed migration of boron less than the limit value for slime toys
  • 2 products showed migration of boron just around the limit value for slime toys.
  • 4 products showed significantly higher migration of boron than the other products. The migration ranged between 700 and 880 milligrams boron per kilo, which is above the limit value for slime toys.

The test laboratory has assessed that all the products examined must be categorized as slime toys.

Legal requirements for boron in toys

There are legal requirements for the migration of boron from toys. However, the limit value depends on the type of toy.

  • 300 milligram per kilo for slime toys
  • 1,200 milligram per kilo for modelling clay type of toy

The consistancy of the product is crucial in determining which category of toy the product belongs to.

In toys there are also limit values for the concentration of CMR substances.

Health effects of boron compounds

The boron released from the slime toys may originate from boron compounds, such as borax and boric acid.

Several boron compounds are classified as so-called CMR substances. CMR-substances can either be carcinogenic, genotoxic or affect the fertility. The substances are also on the EU candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHC).

More acute health effects of boron compounds include eye and skin irritation, as well as digestive problems, vomiting, and liver damage after oral intake.

Test results from other European consumer organizations

Several other European consumer organizations have found similar result in test of slime. In Italy, Spain, France and England tests have revealed slime toys with excessive boron levels.

Several illegal slime toys have also been reported on Rapex, the European rapid alert system for dangerous products.

Products tested, results and comments from manufactures

High migration of boron – above the legal limit values for slime.

  • Dino world - Depesche/Motto A/S
  • Vulkan slim med dino - VN legetøj A/S
  • Dino World Putty – Suntoy AB
  • Noise putty - LG Imports

Average migration of boron – around the legal limit values for slime.

  • Monster Goop - GA Import
  • Funny Slime - Robetoy AB

Low migration of boron – below the legal limit values for slime:

  • Flying Tiger Slim
  • Super Slime - MaxToys Aps
  • Crazy Slime - Out of the blue KG
  • Neon Squishy Like Slime - Liniex Aps
  • OrbSlimy Elasti Plasti - Proxy
  • Slimy OOOPS - Top-Toy A/S
  • Addo Slime - Addo
  • Metallic Slime – Robetoy AB
  • Noisy putty toilet - Out of the blue KG

Dino world - Depesche
Motto A / S is importer of Dino world from Depesche. The company's director, Michael Kristensen, stated that the company's own test report did not show an increased migration level of boron.
After receiving the Danish Consumer Councils Think Chemicals test results, they have  sent the product to test in a laboratory. At the same time, the company has stopped selling the slime until it has detailed information about the results of the new test.

Update: Michael Kristensen states that the company has asked all stores to remove the slime toys from the  shelves and send it back to Motto A / S.

Noise Putty - LG Import
"We have immediately stopped selling slime toys from Belgian LG Imports.  We have written to the German distributor where we bought the slime and to the Belgian importer. Both have taken the product out of the market. "

Peter van Prooijen, gavesjov.dk (Importer of Noise Putty from LG Import)
 
Dino World Putty - Suntoy AB
"We have reviewed the test-report from you. We believe you have an erroneous view on the type of toy. Lekmer.dk sells the product as "slime", but it is not the correct definition.
The product in question is not slime, but a “clay”, and therefore belongs to a different category with higher limit values.  What characterizes slime products is - according to the standard of toys - that it is a liquid substance. Our product is not liquid and the main supplier therefore classifies it as a clay. The same assessment is also done by an independent testing laboratory.

Henrik Tistling, Product Manager, Wonderful Times Group

Advice to consumers
  • Ask in the store whether the slime contains unwanted chemicals. Ask whether boron-compounds are used in the formulation and if so whether the product meets the boron limit value. Ask information about preservatives as well as perfume in the product.
     
  • Do not buy slime or other toys from wish.com or similar online marked-platforms. Often, there is no European company responsible for ensuring that the toy complies with EU rules.
     
  • Avoid using glue, shaving cream, washing detergents or contact lens solutions if you make the slime yourself. Use instead ingredients intended for long term skin contact or alternatively food items such as potato flour.
     
  • Wash hands. Make sure that the children wash their hands thoroughly after playing with the slime.
Preservatives in slime

Slime toys can contain preservatives which inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi and ensure the durability of the aqueous slime products.

However, preservatives may be problematic even if they are allowed for  use. Some of them can be allergenic, others suspected of being endocrine disruptors.

The following problematic substances is used as preservatives in slime:
• Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone (allergenic and forbidden in for example lotions)
• Imidiazolidinyl urea (allergenic)
• Parabens including methyl- and propylparaben (suspected of being endocrine disruptors)
• Iodopropyl butyl carbamate (allergenic)

Unfortunately, slime toys do not have ingredients list similar to food or personal care products and the above list of preservatives in slime are based on information from companies.

The Danish Consumer Council is calling for full declaration of the chemical content in toys and other products for children to make it easier for parents to choose products for their children without problematic substances.