Restricted chemicals in consumer products - ECHA report
20 February 2018
On 13 February 2018, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) published a report on an EU/EEA-wide project of its Enforcement Forum which showed that inspectors had found hundreds of consumer products with illegal amounts of restricted chemicals. Every fifth toy inspected contained high levels of restricted phthalates.
The project report shows a relatively high number of products on the European market containing chemicals that are restricted under REACH. Inspectors in 27 European countries checked 1,009 mixtures, 4,599 articles and 17 substances. Overall, out of 5,625 targeted product checks, 18% did not comply with the restrictions.
The most frequent breaches were: phthalates in toys (20% of inspected toys contained Bis(2-ethylhexyl) (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) at levels above those permitted), cadmium in brazing fillers (14%) and asbestos fibres in products (14%). The products containing asbestos, for example, catalytic heaters, thermos flasks, brake pads, were mostly second-hand and probably produced before the restrictions prohibiting the sale of products containing asbestos came into force.
Inspectors also found high concentrations of chromium VI in leather articles (13% of the tested products) and cadmium in jewellery (12%).
Overall, most of the breaches were found with products whose origins could not be identified (39% of such products did not comply), followed by products imported from China (17%).
The report highlights companies’ responsibility to get information on the chemical composition of their products from their suppliers. This may also include proactively testing the products and making agreements between suppliers so that the chemical composition complies with chemicals legislation. The enforcement authorities will continue enforcing REACH restrictions by analysing further products on the market.