European Chemical Agency concerned over carcinogens in childcare products

14 November 2023 | Muriel Cozier

The European Commission looks to prepare restrictions on potentially hazardous materials.

Results of an investigation conducted by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), indicate that childcare products such as bibs, changing mats and car seats may be a source of substances which are carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMRs). Substances of concern, and most commonly found in childcare products, include metals such as cobalt and lead, along with phthalates.

The ECHA’s investigation, which was requested by the European Commission, drew on 48 different sources, and included two public calls for evidence, and a consultation on the draft report. The ECHA also contacted 233 different stakeholders to inform them of the work and consider their feedback.

The findings will be used to help the EC prepare an EU-wide restriction to limit CMRs. Children may be exposed to these substances through skin or oral contact while using products containing them, which could impact physiological and behavioural development.

The ECHA report provides a number of elements that will support the Commision to prepare for potential future restrictions. These include; information on how childcare articles are defined, what the restrictions could cover, potential derogations, recommended concentration limits and timeframes for implementation. There is also an overview on how feasible it would be to enforce such restrictions.

At the end of 2022, two NGOs: the European Environmental Bureau and ClientEarth, sent a letter to members of the REACH Committee calling for the restriction of ‘hazardous substances in nappies’. The NGOs argued that chemicals such as dioxins, furans, PCBs and PAHs may still be found in nappies today. The NGOs also called for the restriction of ‘intentionally-added microplastics’ in cosmetics and on sports pitches.

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