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Hazardous Chemicals Unveiled in Consumer Products - A Comprehensive Overview of ECHA's Enforcement Project

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In a recent EU-wide enforcement project conducted by the ECHA Forum, alarming levels of hazardous chemicals, including lead and phthalates, were discovered in various consumer products. The project involved inspections by national enforcement authorities from 26 EU countries on more than 2,400 products, with a focus on items intended for consumers. Shockingly, over 18% of the inspected products were found to violate EU chemical laws.

The identified hazardous substances were prevalent in specific product categories:

  1. Electrical Devices (52% non-compliant): This category included electrical toys, chargers, cables, and headphones. The violations were primarily attributed to the presence of lead in solders, phthalates in soft plastic parts, and cadmium in circuit boards.

  2. Sports Equipment (18% non-compliant): Items such as yoga mats, bicycle gloves, balls, and rubber handles of sports equipment were inspected. Non-compliance, amounting to 18%, was mainly due to the presence of SCCPs and phthalates in soft plastic, as well as PAH in rubber.

  3. Toys (16% non-compliant): Non-electric toys, including bathing/aquatic toys, dolls, costumes, play mats, plastic figures, fidget toys, outdoor toys, slime, and childcare articles, showed a 16% non-compliance rate. The violations were predominantly related to phthalates in soft plastic parts, along with other restricted substances such as PAHs, nickel, boron, or nitrosamines.

  4. Fashion Products (15% non-compliant): Fashion items like bags, jewelry, belts, shoes, and clothes exhibited a 15% non-compliance rate. The presence of phthalates, lead, and cadmium in these products contributed to the violations.

In response to the findings, enforcement measures were taken, leading to the withdrawal of non-compliant products from the market. The study also revealed a higher non-compliance rate in products originating from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or those with unknown origins.

The enforcement project, conducted in 2022, specifically addressed compliance with EU chemical regulations, covering aspects such as REACH restrictions, duties applicable to substances in articles under REACH, POPs restrictions, and restrictions derived from the Toys and the RoHS Directives. The collaborative efforts of national enforcement authorities underscore the commitment to ensuring the safety and compliance of products in the European market.


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