Health assessment of Toys

Every day countless teething rings, puppets, toy cars, puzzle pieces and balls go through the hands and mouths of children. BfR assesses the risks of toys and their ingredients to afford children better protection.

Where do the risks lie?

When playing, children can often come into contact with a large number of chemical substances through toys. Substances from toys can be released in smaller or larger amounts during skin contact, in particular when taken into the mouth and hence be absorbed by children.

The risks include carcinogenic substances or heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, which occur in dyes of toys. Plasticisers in toys and the nitrosamine contamination of balloons are just as hazardous. Furthermore, children can also nibble off and ingest smaller amounts of toy materials, such as coatings.

For that reason sensitive substances which are contained in toys may only be released in amounts which are safe for health.

What does BfR do?

BfR assesses possible chemical risks which can be caused by toys. In its work it is supported by the Working Group Toys of the BfR Consumer Articles Committee. This Committee includes national experts of investigation offices, test laboratories and industry.

BfR has already carried out health assessments of a number of substances in toys. These include, amongst others:

  • Nickel
  • Allergenic fragrances
  • Lead
  • Cadmium
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Phenol
  • Plasticisers
  • Formaldehyde in wooden toys
  • Boric acid in bouncing play dough and slimies

BfR advises the Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMEL) scientifically on the development of specifications for the Toys Directive of the European Union. It supports the enforcement of more stringent limit values for contaminants in toys on the EU level.

Legal bases

  • Food, consumer articles and feed code
  • Consumer articles ordinance
  • German equipment and product safety act
  • Toy Directive 88/378/EEC as well as the European Standards EN 71-3, 71-7-9 to 11

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