An alarming analysis of EU data has discovered that toys — more than any other product type — are most likely to contain illegal levels of toxic substances banned by the EU as a result of their carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction (CMR) properties.

Dolls, modelling clay, slime, balls and balloons were among 290 toys found to contain illegal levels of toxic substances according to an analysis of alerts shared by governments across Europe in 2018.

Warnings in 2018 of products found with illegal levels of banned substances have been issued about 290 toys. Most (86%) were plastic toys. Other types of product that failed chemical checks include clothing, cosmetics and jewellery. Of equal concern, five items of protective equipment failed the test.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) analysed data issued by Rapex during 2018 on products that underwent testing. Of the 1996 products of all types checked for all risks, 563 failed chemical tests. EEB Chemicals Policy Manager, Tatiana Santos, said: “We are happy to see agents blocking dangerous toys. Sadly, they are fighting a losing battle. Manufacturers do not fear the law and government inspectors are outnumbered and outgunned. With the UN talking about a silent pandemic of disease due to chemical exposure, we need proper chemicals control and enforcement more than ever. Yet, the EU just put a wide ranging and overdue strategy to tackle the problem on ice. It should reverse that decision. And in the meantime, shoppers this Christmas might want to try and avoid plastic toys altogether.”

Last reviewed 28 December 2018