European Commission unveils proposal for a new Directive on safe toys


On 25 January, the European Commission issued a proposal for a Directive on the safety of toys. The new legislation aims to replace and modernise the Toys Directive introduced on 3 May 1988 in the light of new product development and improvements in scientific knowledge of chemical substances.

The proposed Directive introduces new and more stringent safety requirements to address consumers' concerns over recently identified chemical hazards and reduce toy-related accidents and health scares. It also aims to strengthen the responsibility of manufacturers and importers in ensuring that the toys they market are safe.

In particular, the proposal includes a ban on the use of chemical substances that are believed to provoke cancer (so called CMR, or carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction substances), as well as allergenic fragrances; a reduction in the legal limits of dangerous substances such as lead or mercury.

Some groups such as WECF, Women in Europe for a Common Future, say that the new proposal does not go far enough to protect the health of the most vulnerable, children. WECF demands a total ban on all health disrupting substances in toys. The new toys directive will not be enough to control these dangerous chemicals as it does not cover all hazardous substances. "Children are our future and they should be protected. Toys are for fun and not meant to harm their healthy development", states Sascha Gabizon, director of WECF. "The proposal for the new Toys Directive does not sufficiently protect Europe's most vulnerable citizens. In the revision only a certain group of dangerous substances is addressed and banned, the so-called CMR's; Carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic substances, which can cause cancer, change genes or form a risk for reproduction. Even the CMRs are not completely banned, as exemptions are foreseen by the Commission. Hormone disrupting substances and neuro-toxic substances, which can cause damage to children's brain development and can lead to learning impairment, are not covered at all.

Many of the chemicals concerned, including phthalates and synthetic musks, can potentially disrupt hormone functions, harm reproduction and build up or persist in the environment, food chain and in the fatty tissues in our bodies. That is why WECF asks for a total ban on all hazardous substances, as it is unacceptable that a toy contains dangerous chemical substances".

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