Prohibited substances found in electrical toys

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has found harmful chemicals substances in eleven of the 60 toys which were inspected in an enforcement project. It mainly concerns electrical toys which contain lead in the soldering.

“It’s noteworthy that lead has been found in a large share of the tested electrical toys. The individual products per se don’t comprise a large risk, but in the long-term the harmful substances we have found entail a problem for both health and the environment,” says Karin Rumar, Inspector at the Swedish Chemicals Agency.  

In the enforcement project the Swedish Chemicals Agency inspected 60 toys from 20 different companies. The focus has been on toys sold in dispensing machines, toys from fast-food chains, soft stickers and electrical toys. In eleven of the analysed toys, corresponding to 18 percent, prohibited levels of harmful substances were found.  

Mainly the inspected electrical toys did not fulfil the requirements of chemicals legislation. Nine of twelve electrical toys inspected by the Swedish Chemicals Agency in the project contained lead, which can damage the nervous system and entail lower intellectual development and performance. Lead was found in the soldering inside the toys, which means that children cannot access the substance during normal usage. Therefore, the discovery of lead has the greatest significance during manufacturing of toys, at the waste stage or if lead is released into the environment. In two of the nine toys which contained lead, the Swedish Chemicals Agency also found prohibited levels of cadmium.  

Two stickers inspected by the Swedish Chemicals Agency in the project also contained prohibited levels of short chain chlorinated paraffins, an environmentally hazardous substance which is also suspected to cause cancer. In one of the two stickers the plasticising phthalate DEHP was also found. DEHP can affect the balance of certain hormones in the body and harm reproductive function. DEHP is prohibited in toys and childcare products within the EU if the level exceeds 0.1 percent.  

“A positive result of the project is that we’ve found relatively few deficiencies in toys sold in dispensing machines and by fast-food chains. One reason may be that these products have mainly been bought from large European suppliers, instead of being imported directly to Sweden from Asia,” says Karin Rumar.  

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has reported four of the toy companies to prosecutors for suspicion of environmental offence. The inspections are random checks focusing on finding deficiencies and therefore the results do not reflect the content of all toys in the market. Companies have stopped the sale of toys with prohibited substances after the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s examination.  

“The companies are responsible for ensuring that the toys don’t contain prohibited chemical substances. By imposing clear chemical requirements on their suppliers and ensuring adherence to legislation, the companies also contribute to a non-toxic daily life and non-toxic environment,” says Karin Rumar.

Read the report (in Swedish)

For more information, please feel free to contact:

Karin Rumar, Inspector, +46 8 519 41 252

The Swedish Chemicals Agency’s press service, +46 8 519 41 200, press@kemi.se  

E-mail addresses of the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s employees are written as follows: firstname.surname@kemi.se

Harmful substances found by the Swedish Chemicals Agency in toys  

  • Lead can, among other things, damage the nervous system and entail lower intellectual development and performance. Foetuses and small children are particularly sensitive. High levels are acutely toxic and hazardous for the environment.
  • Cadmium can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis and is also suspected to cause cancer. The substance is hazardous for the environment.  
  • All phthalates are not harmful, but some phthalates can affect the testicles and make it more difficult to have children and are also suspected to cause a hormonal imbalance.  
  • Short Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) are harmful for aquatic organisms and are highly persistent in nature. The substances are also suspected to be carcinogenic.

Hints and tips for chemicals in children's everyday life

How can you reduce the risk that children are exposed to harmful chemical substances? Find some practical tips to all who care for children in the Swedish Chemicals Agency's brochure Chemicals in Children´s Everyday Lives .

The Swedish Chemicals Agency is supervisory authority under the Government. We work in Sweden, the EU and internationally to develop legislation and other incentives to promote good health and improved environment. We monitor compliance of applicable rules on chemical products, pesticides and substances in articles and carry out inspections. We also provide guidance regarding enforcement and inspections to municipalities and county administrative boards. We review and authorise pesticides before they can be used. Our environmental quality objective is A Non-toxic Environment.

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