Non-Compliant Products Found in the European Union

The European and Swedish Chemicals Agencies both inspect thousands of articles. Importantly, inspectors uncovered hundreds of products with illegal amounts of hazardous chemicals. Thus, many articles non-compliant with substance regulations in the European Union (EU) remain.

Non-Compliant Products Found by the ECHA

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has checked thousands of products for substances restricted under the REACH regulation. As a result, following their investigations, they concluded that 18% are non-compliant products. Alarmingly, they also confirmed the following:

ECHA European Chemicals Agency
  • 20% of inspected toys had Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) (DEHP) above legal levels, per REACH Annex XVII.
  • 12% of jewelry and 14% of brazing fillers contained cadmium.
  • 13% of leather articles had a high concentration of hexavalent chromium.
  • Finally, 14% of products contained cancer-causing asbestos.

 

Consequently, the ECHA published a full report in February 2018 as part of FORUM’s Harmonised Enforcement Project on Restrictions.

KEMI’s Findings of Non-Compliant Products

Meanwhile, the Swedish Chemicals Agency (kemikalienspektionen, also called KEMI) has conducted a similar investigation. Consequently, they have prosecuted 16 out of the inspected 19 importers for non-compliant products. KEMI investigated 261 goods, including:

  • Consumer electronics;
  • Sporting goods; and
  • Toys.
KEMI - kemikalienspektionen
Non-Compliant products - electronic Toys

Specifically, 61 products (23%) contained at least one banned substance above the maximum limit. The most common offense was high levels of lead in solder used for electrical and electronic devices. Second, short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) were present in soft plastics. Furthermore, there were restricted phthalates in moisturizers.

KEMI’s Statement for Non-Compliant Products

Ms. Camilla Westlund, one of KEMi’s inspectors, has declared that companies have improved chemical control. However, there are still many products that contain illegal substances. She has also said that while the health risks for individual products are not high, we should reduce the total amount of human and environmental exposure to toxic material.

The Dangers of Non-Compliant Products

Ultimately, non-compliant goods such as those discussed in this article contain hazardous chemicals harmful to human health and the ecosystem.

PFAS Toxic substances TSCA
Lead - Non-Compliant Products

Lead Hazard

For example, lead, which KEMI revealed in solder, is a heavy metal that can cause:

  • Anemia
  • Brain damage
  • Kidney impairment; and
  • Nervous system deterioration

Therefore, RoHS regulations restrict lead and other hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.

Mercury Hazardous chemicals

Cadmium

Next, cadmium, which the ECHA discovered in jewelry and brazing fillers, is carcinogenic and can affect:

  • Bones
  • Kidneys; and
  • Lungs.
Hazardous substances and aquatic life

SCCPs

Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) serve in many soft plastics. Sadly, SCCPs hurt aquatic organisms and may cause cancer. Consequently, the EU Persistent Organic Pollutants regulations (POP) restrict the use of SCCPs.

Phthalates in Plastics

Phthalates

Some phthalates are carcinogenic, reprotoxic (prevent reproduction), and can upset the body’s hormonal system. Worryingly, KEMI and the ECHA uncovered such phthalates in toys and moisturizers.

Eyes irritation hexavalent chromium hazardous chemicals

Hexavalent Chromium

Lastly, hexavalent chromium, possibly present in leather articles, is irritant, carcinogenic, and toxic to:

  • Mucous membranes
  • Eyes; and
  • Skin

Tips to Reduce Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

Finally, KEMI lists tips to reduce the risk of unsafe goods:

TIP REACH SCIP Notification
  1. Avoid putting electronics such as computers and televisions in children’s bedrooms.
  2. Do not let children put electronics in their mouths.
  3. Prevent children from unscrewing electrical appliances.
  4. Ensure electronic equipment at home is marked with the CE label to know that they meet EU safety and environmental obligations (such as EU RoHS and ecodesign directives).
  5. Drop off any waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) at designated recycling centers.

For any questions on the risk of designing non-compliant products, contact Enviropass.