Toys: Still phthalates in toys and products for kids

20. dec 2017

A new test of 30 different toys in plastic shows that products for children still can contain different endocrine disrupting substances – the so-called phthalates.


Toys: Still phthalates in toys and products for kids
Photo: Benjamin Media

Endocrine disrupting: Phthalates in toys are problematic

Phthalates are a group of substances used as softeners in plastic products. Some phthalates are classified as having endocrine disrupting effects in humans and others are suspected of being endocrine disrupters.

The substances are problematic in consumer products especially in toys for children.

Children’s bodies continuously develop and therefore children are extra sensible to endocrine disrupting substances.

A test from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals shows that 5 out of 30 products for children contain one or more problematic phthalates. The substances were found in an American football, in a football, in a green bouncy dragon, in some plastic farm animals and in some reflectors.

The test also examined whether the companies answered correctly when asked about the content of problematic chemicals in their products, the so-called Right to know, which refers to article 33 in the chemicals legislation of the EU, REACH.

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

Test: Previous check revealed problems

As a consumer, you have the right to ask about the chemical content of a product. The retailer or manufacturer are obliged to provide you with an answer within 45 days if a product contains substances of very high concern from EU’s candidate list, a list of substances of concern.

A test in January 2017 from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals showed that manufacturers and retailers of 58 plastic products bought in DIY stores replied incorrect in 31 percent of the cases.

Read about all tests of chemicals in consumer products from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Toys: Companies still provide wrong answers

The new test of toys from December 2017 shows that retailers and manufacturers still give wrong answers about substances of very high concern.

In 4 cases the answers from the companies were that there were no candidate list substances in their products. In 1 instance the company answered that the product did contain candidate list substances – but below the limit value.

The test showed that all 5 answers were wrong – they all contained phthalates included on the EU candidate list.

Phthalates in toys are unwanted

“It seems like the toy companies have more control on the use of phthalates in their products than DIY stores have in their products. But even though phthalates have been debated and their safety questioned for decades we still find them in products for children. That is simply not good enough,” says Claus Jørgensen, head of project, The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Authorities notified about 4 products

The Danish Council THINK Council has notified the authorities about 4 products.

The American football and the regular football have already been removed from the market after the test results were presented for the retailers.

 “Our assessment is that the 4 products in question are toys for small children 0-3 years, and since phthalates are banned in toys for small children 0-3 years the products are illegal,” says Claus Jørgensen, head of project, The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Read about all tests of chemicals in consumer products from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Comment from the companies

“We have recalled the products (the American football and the regular football) from our web shop”


“For the 2 Baby Buddy products we have an ongoing dialogue with the supplier. We are also in the process of removing the products in question from the sales area. For 3-2-1 go reflectors we also have a close contact with the supplier who is examining the matter carefully.”

VN Legetøj

The company says that the green bouncy dragon may be an older product. The company’s own test report shows that their current production does not contain phthalates. Furthermore the company disputes the results and has 5 own test reports which show no content of DEHP in the farm animals.

RFX+CARE International A/S

“The test from The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals is conducted differently than how these products should be tested to make secure that each product is in accordance with REACH. The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has made test of a mix of several reflectors in the same test. We test every material individually. As manufacturer we cannot get full access to the test report from The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals. We always have 110 percent focus on complying with REACH and EN13356:2001. We also frequently conduct test on samples of our materials.

We can give a 100 percent guarantee to the consumers and say that our reflector material does not contain phthalates or other illegal chemicals. Furthermore we conclude that the result can only come from 1 of the 4 tested samples (a piece which is encapsulated in the reflector) or our product may have been stored in close proximity to a product which contained the found substances. We are conducting further individual test on the 4 colored interlayer-film in trying to find out exactly where the results come from, and in this way be able to give a comprehensive answer and we will act on the results if necessary.

We are grateful for being chosen for this test since it gives us an opportunity to demand further tests from our suppliers and also to have focus on the fact that further sample tests are required – also of the interlayer films which is bought in good faith believing that they are free from PVC / phthalates. We have in our own test reached the conclusion that the only thing that could cause the result of The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals test is the red foil inside one of the reflectors which is now sent for separate testing.”