Test: Unwanted chemicals in toys from eBay, Amazon and Wish

21. jun 2019

Toys bought online from Wish, eBay and Amazon can contain endocrine disrupting phthalates. This test from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals shows that 9 out of 29 products contain illegal quantities of phthalates.

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Foto: Forbrugerrådet Tænk Kemi

Cheap toys bought online can contain endocrine disrupting chemicals

Kids are in close skin contact with toys and they often put the toys in their mouth. If the toys are bought online from Wish, eBay or Amazon, the kids risk being exposed to illegal chemicals.

Phthalates are added to plastic toys to make it softer and bendable. But phthalates can be endocrine disrupting and harmful to reproduction.

Toys which contain phthalates emit the substances to the near surroundings and chemicals are stored in the air and in the dust, where the children either breathe in the chemicals or take them in orally through the mouth, in addition to when they play with, touch or mouth the toy.

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

Toys bought online often originates from China

All Phthalates are forbidden in Denmark in toys for children 36 months and younger. For older children (up to 14 years old) there are limit values for several phthalates in toys.

When you buy toys online there is no guarantee that the products meet the requirements set out in the EU chemicals legislation (REACH). Online marketplaces like Wish, eBay and Amazon sell many toys directly from China to consumers in the EU, and in China the chemical laws and regulations are different and not as strict as in the EU.

The test from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals shows that 9 out of 29 products bought online at Wish, eBay or Amazon contain illegal and potentially harmful phthalates. In some cases the limit values are exceeded more than 200 times.

All 9 products have been reported to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

Toys sold in Danish or European shops, be they physical or digital, are obliged to comply with EU legislation. Toy producers and retailers outside the EU have different rules that they have to comply with. 

The products have been removed from the web shops

Wish, Amazon and eBay have all replied to the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals, and they have all removed the illegal products from their web shops.

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency has investigated the cases after they received the reports from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals and after having been in contact with the companies they are satisfied that the products are no longer available online. The case has been closed from their side.

If you have further questions contact Head of project Claus Jørgensen on cj@fbr.dk

How we tested

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has previously looked at toys from online web shops like Amazon, eBay and Wish.

In many cases the products fail our tests, and this is why we have decided to look at the plastic toys from the web shops and test the products to see if they contain illegal phthalates.

In February 2019 the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals bought 29 pieces of toys from the online web shops Wish, eBay and Amazon. We bought toys made of plastic, because phthalates are used to soften plastic products.

The toys were sent for testing at an accredited laboratory. The products were tested for content of several phthalates.

What we found

One in three products contains illegal phthalates:

  • 8 toys contain DEHP, which an endocrine disrupter and illegal in toys. The content in the toys varied from 2.1 to 21.1 percent.
  • 4 toys contain DIDP, which is prohibited in toys and articles which children may put in the mouth. The content in the toys varied from 0.12 to 1.0 percent.
  • 4 toys contain DINP, which is prohibited in toys and articles which children may put in the mouth. The content in the toys varied from 2.6 to 10.4 percent.
  • 1 toys contains DBP, which an endocrine disrupter and illegal in toys. The content in the toys was 0.15 percent.

Phthalates are prohibited in toys

In Denmark all phthalates are banned in toys for children 0-3 years old. (limit of 0.05 procent). This is stricter than the EU legislation.

In toys for older children (>3 to 14 years old) DEHP and DBP is banned (limit of 0.1 percent). DINP and DIDP are also banned in quantities over 0.1 percent in articles which children may put in the mouth.

Results per web shop:

  • WISH.com: 4 out of 13 products contain illegal phthalates
  • Amazon.com: 3 out of 10 products contain illegal phthalates

eBay: 2 out of 6 products contain illegal phthalates

Company comments

eBay:

eBay has informed The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals that their safety team has removed the two products in question from their web shop and that they in addition also removed 38 other products.

Amazon:

Amazon has informed The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals that they have removed the products in question after we contacted them with our test results.

Wish:

Wish has informed The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals that they have removed the products in question which were put online against their rules.

Consumer advise on buying toys online

Do not buy directly from China

Avoid buying Chinese toys from non-European web shops. China does not have the same chemicals legislation as the EU and Denmark. Therefore the risk of buying toys or other products which contain illegal chemicals is higher.

Toys sold in Europe have to be labelled with a CE-label. This way the producer shows the consumer that the toy complies with EU legislation.

Be aware however that the CE-label is no guarantee for compliance, since there is no control of compliance. But if there’s no CE-label on the product then you can be sure that the producer does not know the EU legislation.