Health-EU newsletter 207 - Focus

Recommendation made to decrease the migration limits for aluminium in toys

by Renate Krätke, Vice-Chair of the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER), Chair of the Working Group on Aluminium in Toys

In its final Opinion on tolerable intake of aluminium with regards to adapting the migration limits for aluminium in toys, the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) recommended setting the tolerable daily intake for aluminium to 0,3 mg/kg bodyweight/day; 10% of which could come from toys.

The migration rate permitted from toys would break down as follows: 2250 mg aluminium/kg of dry, brittle, powder-like or pliable toy material, 560 mg aluminium/kg of liquid or sticky toy material and 28130 mg aluminium/kg of scraped-off toy material. Aluminium can migrate from toys, particularly when young children mouth, chew or suck on toys, and this amount of aluminium has to be added to the uptake from other sources including food, which is the leading source of aluminium intake. That said, because exposure from other sources such as food may already exceed existing tolerable intake values, the SCHEER recommends that additional exposure to aluminium from toys should be minimised.

The European Union has some of the strictest safety rules concerning toys in the world, which are outlined in the Toy Safety Directive of 2009. If a toy has the EU sign of approval on it and is permitted for sale in the EU, it has already met this rigorous set of safety criteria. The migration limits for aluminium in toys are already stated in the European Union's Toy Safety Directive. Tolerable levels of aluminium intake have already been established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2008 and by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives in 2011.

But it is the job of the European Commission to continually monitor the health risks including those posed by toys, and recently the Commission asked its independent Scientific Committee to analyse whether the tolerable intake level used is still adequate for the derivation of migration limits for toys.

In addition, the Commission asked the SCHEER to review the currently available data on the toxicity of aluminium and to present a recommendation for a tolerable intake level for aluminium based on most recent data and for migration limits for aluminium in toys considering exposure to aluminium from sources other than toys.

A public consultation on the preliminary Opinion was opened on the website of the Scientific Committees from 7 July to 10 September 2017. Information about the public consultation was broadly communicated to national authorities, international organisations and other stakeholders and resulting comments were considered before finalising the Opinion but did not require modifying its contents.

It was my honour to serve as the head of the Working Group on this Opinion and to contribute to helping to keep the EU, especially its youngest and most vulnerable members, as safe and healthy as possible. I look forward to this New Year and new challenges as we continue our work in the public interest.


Progress made on Skin Sensitisation Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) for Fragrance Ingredients

Exposure to certain chemicals induces skin sensitisation and might lead to allergic contact dermatitis. As fragrances can contain these chemicals, contact allergy to fragrance ingredients is a concern, especially as fragrances encompass more than perfumes and colognes and are also found in a wide range of cosmetic and other products.

Recently, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) was asked to evaluate a new quantitative risk assessment methodology developed by the International Dialogue for the Evaluation of Allergens (IDEA) project. Dubbed QRA2, it builds on the work of an earlier model for conducting dermal sensitisation quantitative risk assessment that was developed by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA).

The QRA2 final report shows that much progress has been made since the initial publication of the quantitative risk assessment and the SCCS is of the opinion that with further refinement, it could be fit for purpose and could even have wider applications.

For more information on these developments, read the SCCS's preliminary Opinion on Skin Sensitisation Quantitative Risk Assessment for Fragrance Ingredients (QRA2), which was published online in October 2017 and is open for comments until 22 January 2018.