The potential health risks of chemicals used in plastic toys have had scientists concerned for years, but new research reveals just how widespread the risk of harm to children remains.
In an international study, researchers assessed the chemical compositions of toys and estimated levels of human exposure to the substances, ultimately finding over 100 “Chemicals of Concern” in plastic toy materials that could pose a non-negligible health risk to children.
“Out of 419 chemicals found in hard, soft, and foam plastic materials used in children toys, we identified 126 substances that can potentially harm children’s health either via cancer or non-cancer effects, including 31 plasticisers, 18 flame retardants, and 8 fragrances,” explains quantitative sustainability researcher Peter Fantke from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
According to the researchers, while laws in many countries regulate the use of certain potentially toxic chemicals in plastic toys, there is no consistent approach internationally, and current protections don’t adequately prohibit the vast extent of potentially harmful substances that toys are made from.
“Existing regulations usually focus on particular chemicals (e.g. phthalates, brominated flame retardants, and metals), while currently not covering the broad range of chemical substances that are found in plastic toys,” the team, led by first author and PhD student Nicolò Aurisano, writes in the study.