Will the EU Banish Hormone Disruptors in Toys ?
In July 2023 the European Commission published a proposal to ban hormone disrupting chemicals from toys.
The proposal is part of the revision of the Toy Safety Directive, the EU legislation that sets out safety criteria for toys before they can be marketed. The ban would include both known and suspected hormone disruptors – making it the first time ever that these chemicals are prohibited in an entire category of products.
Current regulations prohibit substances in toys that can cause cancer, genetic mutations, or are toxic to reproduction, but do not address hormone disruptors. They also set limits on the amount of certain chemicals (e.g. Bisphenol A) allowed to leach from toys intended to be placed in the mouth, or for those intended for children up to 3 years old.
Hormone disruptors, which are also known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are substances that can interfere with the normal functioning of the body’s hormone system. Certain EDCs have been linked to negative health impacts, such as effects on brain development and the normal functioning of the reproductive system.
Recent testing by the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals highlighted the use of hormone disrupting chemicals in toys. The study found bisphenols – some of which are known EDCs and others that are suspected EDCs – in 60% of 121 tested children’s products, including in baby teething toys.
In this revision of the Toy Safety Directive, the Commission proposes that both known and suspected hormone disruptors are added to the list of regulated substances. They also suggest that the current chemical leaching limits are extended to all toys intended for all age groups.
The Commission also proposed that the revised Toy Safety Directive should account for combined exposure to chemicals – also known as the mixture effect. Read more about the mixture effect in our report ‘Chemical Cocktails: The neglected threat of toxic mixtures and how to fix it’.
The proposal will now undergo a thorough review process within the European Union’s legal bodies. Should the proposal become law, it would set a global precedent for required actions on toy safety.
The Director of the European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, said “the proposal to ban hormone-disrupting chemicals from toys is a milestone to protect the health of children”.
CHEM Trust welcomes these developments, many of which we called for in our input into the public consultation for the targeted revision of the Toy Safety Directive. Alongside NGO colleagues, we are calling on the EU authorities and UK government to protect their citizens from harmful chemicals by introducing robust legislation to phase out the most harmful chemicals from consumer products by 2030.
If you are concerned about endocrine disruptors in children’s products see our advice for parents webpage.