The European Commission has opened a public consultation to gather views on how the EU Toy Safety Directive can be improved to better protect children’s health against harmful substances - including endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) - in toys. Citizens across Europe are invited until 25 May to have their say on how current loopholes compromising the health and safety of kids should be addressed. 

Kids of all ages are surrounded by toys and other consumer products that contain endocrine disrupting chemicals. And this is worrying: children are amongst the most vulnerable groups at risk from the effects of exposure to such harmful substances. Protecting children of all ages against their exposure to hazardous chemicals, including EDCs, is crucial. 

But in its current form, the EU Toys Safety Directive includes some important loopholes. Most notably, the legislation is limited to toys aimed at children under the age of three. Secondly, its scope is further limited by not including articles such as sport, art or hair accessories and supplies. Thirdly, certain loopholes allow contaminated recycled materials, such as recycled plastics, to be used for crafting toys. Lastly, the legislation does not account for the multiple different ways in which children are exposed to harmful endocrine disruptors.  

EDC-Free Europe members and partners have repeatedly demonstrated the presence and contamination of endocrine disruptors and other harmful chemicals in toys: 

  • A 2022 study from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals shows handlebars, saddles and tires of children’s running bikes may contain harmful endocrine disrupting phthalates, flame retardants and certain PAHs.
  • In 2021, a study from the same consumer group warned that fidget toys, popular among kids of all ages, can contain suspected carcinogenic substances and endocrine disrupting phthalates.  
  • In 2019, another study from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals showed that 9 out of 29 toys bought online from Wish, eBay and Amazon contained phthalates, a family of endocrine disrupting chemicals.
  • In 2020, the Czech environmental group Arnika published case studies from 2007 to 2016 showing the presence of phthalates in consumer products children come in frequent and direct contact with, including toys.  
  • A 2018 study from Arnika, IPEN, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and BUND found alarming levels of toxic brominated dioxins in toys made of recycled plastic. 
  • A 2019 infographic from HEAL and TEDX, called Low Doses Matter: Everyday exposures to EDCs contribute to modern health epidemics, highlights toys as a source of exposure and how EDCs impact children’s health. 

A first stakeholder consultation on the EU Commission’s roadmap for the revision of the Toy Safety Directive, in which six EDC-Free Europe members took part, closed in November 2021.