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New safety requirements for toys

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While continuously striving to improve the safety of toys and, at the same time, seeking to cut "red tape" where possible the European Commission took three important decisions in the past weeks.

First, it reduced the maximum limit value for the flame retardant TCEP (Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate) to 5 mg/kg in toys for children up to the age of 3 years and in any toys intended to be placed in the mouth. Second, the Commission set a strict limit of 0.1 mg/l (migration limit) for Bisphenol A (BPA) in toys for children up to the age of 3 years and in any toys intended to be placed in the mouth. Finally, it decided to exempt nickel in electric toys from the limit value regarding carcinogenicity.

TCEP and similar flame retardants strictly limited in toys

On June 20, the European Commission decided to drastically reduce the maximum limit value for the flame retardant TCEP (Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate) to 5 mg/kg in toys for children up to the age of 3 years and in any toys intended to be placed in the mouth. The use of TCEP in the EU has already declined, but it might still be present in toys, including imports. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), which provides independent scientific opinions to the European Commission, considered TCEP to pose a risk to children, including the risk of cancer. SCHER therefore recommended TCEP in toys be limited to the lowest concentration that a sensitive laboratory test can identify. SCHER further recommended that also the alternatives of TCEP, namely TDCP and TCPP, be limited in toys in the same way. The directive adopted by the Commission therefore restricts TCEP, TDCP and TCPP in toys to this very low concentration.
Abbreviations: TCEP:  Tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate, CAS No 115-96-8, TDCP: Tris[2-chloro-1-(chloromethyl)ethyl] phosphate, CAS No 13674-87-8, TCPP: Tris(2-chloro-1-methylethyl) phosphate (), CAS No 13674-84-5.


Bisphenol A (BPA) strictly limited in toys
On June 25, the European Commission decided to set a strict limit of 0.1 mg/l (migration limit) in toys for children up to the age of 3 years and in any toys intended to be placed in the mouth. The limit was taken from European Standard EN 71-9:2005+A1:2007, which is applied voluntarily by the European toy industry to control the content of BPA in toys. This has contributed to keeping the exposure of children to BPA from toys low in comparison to other non-food contributors such as cosmetics or dust, and far lower than the exposure from BPA in the diet according to the related report of the European Food Safety Agency.
The complex health effects of BPA, including endocrine disrupting effects, are still under scientific evaluation at the EFSA and in other scientific fora. If relevant new scientific information becomes available through the ongoing scientific work, the limit that the Commission has now adopted would have to be reviewed.

Unnecessary nickel tests no longer required for toys
On July 1, the European Commission decided to exempt nickel in electric toys from the limit value regarding carcinogenicity (Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC, Annex II, section 3, No 5). However the nickel limit values to protect children against sensitisation and ingestion toxicity remain unchanged.
The above exemption is possible without compromising safety since nickel is only carcinogenic when present in the form of inhalable fumes. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) considered, in its opinion of 25 September 2012,  that nickel metal fumes are not expected to be released from toys, not even from badly functioning electric motors such as in model cars or railroad locomotives.



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