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Key Learnings from 2019 EU Recalls: CHEMICAL HAZARD

Learn more about toys that were recalled due to chemical hazards.

Key Learnings from 2019 EU Recalls: CHEMICAL HAZARD

August 18, 2020

In 2019 a large proportion of alerts on the Safety Gate showed that dangerous chemicals were found in toys; 47% of alerts about toys signaled a chemical risk. The presence of phthalates in the plastic of dolls has been observed for several years. In 2019, there were many alerts on slime toys with boron. Both chemicals can harm the health of children by damaging their reproductive systems.

Why chemicals are dangerous?

Toys containing toxic chemical substances, such as those classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or reproductively toxic, present a hazard to children during play. Exposure routes include ingestion, inhalation and skin contact. When exposed to equivalent amounts of these chemicals, children are usually more vulnerable than adults, due to differences such as their body weights and metabolism rates.


The restriction of chemical substances is extensive and specific to toys.  Some restrictions include EN 71–3, EN 71–2, nickel released, azo dyes, phthalates and many others.


Restrictions on the use of chemicals are continuously growing and updating. Two examples are:

  • The EU Safety of Toys Directive, Appendix C that is subject to continuous updates based on new scientific evidence related to hazardous substances used in toys for children below 3 years of age or toys intended to be placed in the mouth.
  • Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Annex XVII, includes several limitations applicable to toys and it is also constantly updated.

Suggested testing package

To evaluate the chemical safety of the product, we need to consider several restrictions including EN 71–3 Safety of toys — Part 3: Migration of certain elements, EN 71–2 Safety of toys — Part 2: Flammability, the EU Safety of Toys Directive — Appendix C, the REACH regulation Annex XVII.

To know more download SAFETY OF TOYS — Key learnings from 2019 EU recalls


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Overview reports of SAFETY GATE notifications, published free of charge in English on, © European Union, 2005–2020. The official contact points of the Member and EFTA-EEA States provide the information published in these weekly overviews. Under the terms of Annex II.10 to the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC) responsibility for the information provided lies with the notifying party. The Commission does not take any responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided.