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Toxic substances: 1 out of 5 products in the EU

Half of controlled electrical appliances exceed permitted limits for toxic substances

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – From earphones to armrests for children, from yoga mats to bags and belts: almost one in five products on sale throughout Europe contains “excessive” levels of toxic substances dangerous to health. It’s the results of monitoring by ECHA, the EU Chemicals Agency, in 26 European countries.

Of the more than 2,400 products on the market analysed by the competent national authorities in the last year, more than 400 do not comply with European standards on the use of toxic substances. Some categories of objects are more at risk, especially electronic devices. Between levels of lead in the welds too high, phthalates in the plastic parts and cadmium in the electronic circuits, 52% of these devices exceed the limits imposed by the relevant EU regulations.

Frequent problems with sports equipment. 18% of the products analyzed are illegal for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phthalates and paraffin. On similar percentages also toys, from baby ducks to slime: 16% of the products exceed the levels considered safe for phthalates, nickel, boron, and nitrosamines. Finally, 15% of items such as bags, jewelry, belts, shoes and clothing are too high in lead, cadmium and phthalates.

Who misses more? It is mainly importers and online stores – including Amazon – that have the highest overshoot rates, compared to distributors and manufacturers. And in most cases, the manager does not voluntarily withdraw the offending article: it happens only in 39% of cases. “Importers and online markets have roughly the same level of non-compliance, at 26% and 23% respectively. Distributors and manufacturers have recorded lower levels of non-compliance (13% and 9%)”, reads the report. For products for which ECHA has not been able to determine the company’s role, the non-compliance rate soars to 66%.

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