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Danish EPA to consumers: Get rid of certain slime toys

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By Sehbar Khalaf

Sehbar Khalaf is a pharmacist and scientific officer in the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Danish EPA runs a consumer programme that started in 2001. The programme increases knowledge on problematic substances used in consumer products and assesses the health and/or environmental risk from using products containing problematic substances.

Two investigations of slime toys published by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that the substance boron released from 11 slime toys could pose a serious risk for children. The Danish EPA advises consumers to get rid of the toys.

The Danish EPA has tested 67 randomly selected slime toys. Nine products were purchased from web shops outside of Europe and eight of these did not comply with EU legislation. Out of the 58 products from within Europe, eleven were also illegal.

Overall, the Danish EPA found that 11 of the 67 slime toys could pose a serious risk for children, because of the identified release of the substance boron from the products when children are playing with them in an extended period.

The element boron is used in slime toys as a preservative and to achieve the slimy texture. Boron is classified as having reproductive toxicity.

The companies responsible for the products have been informed and were imposed to immediately stop selling them. There is no acute risk if children have been playing with the toys, but to ensure long term consumer safety, children should not play with these toys. When a product is identified as posing a potential serious risk, it is because of the combination of the hazardous effects of the substances and the expected high concentrations of exposure of the harmful substance. The Danish EPA therefore advices consumers to get rid of the toys.

The Danish EPA has through many years had a focus on measuring the level of harmful substances in products. In the analysis of the slime toys, besides looking at the REACH restricted substance boron the EPA also looked at other potential harmful substances. These substances are the preservatives such as Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Kathon. Both substances have been proven to cause allergic reactions.

The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has concluded that there are no safe concentration levels of the two substances to avoid the risk of contact allergy induction or elicitation for leave-on cosmetic products. Since children do not necessarily wash their hands after playing with toys, slime toys can be considered as leave-on cosmetic products. Currently, there is no regulation in place for Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Kathon in the Toy Safety Directive for toys intended for children above 3 years of age, but there is a regulation in place for cosmetic products.

One of the two above mentioned investigations was performed as a part of the Danish EPA Chemical Inspection control program.  The other investigation was a more systematically conducted consumer project under the Danish consumer program. Since 2001, a number of projects have been carried out to evaluate the risks inherent in use of various product groups. The projects focused on people's exposure to chemical substances from consumer products. In general, children are a prioritized group of consumers in the Danish consumer program. This priority is based on the fact that children are more sensitive to such exposure compared to adults.

You can find the projects and more information here

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