20 April 2018
Danish Agency Warns Against “Squishy” Toys, While Consumers Are Warned of Strong Chemical Smells and the Importance of the CE Mark on Toys
The Danish Environmental Protection Agency has issued an announcement urging consumers to avoid perfumed “squishy” toys, indicating that many perfume substances are allergenic.
According to the Agency, these toys are often made of foam material, which are pleasant to touch and which can be “squished”, i.e., be clenched by pushing all the air out and then expand again.
Children are more sensitive to chemical influences than adults and, as these toys are typically used by children during an extended period of time, there may be a high toxic exposure, if chemicals are released from the toy.
Therefore, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency has recommended buying “squishy” toys without perfumes. It considers that perfumes are generally unnecessary and may be allergenic. It especially recommends avoiding squishy toys which emit a particularly strong “chemical” smell.
The Agency has further advised that consumers buy toys which are CE-marked, as this confirms that the manufacturer has taken the view that the product should be classified as a toy and should therefore comply with the applicable rules. The Agency has emphasised, however, that simply being CE marked does not mean that the authorities have actually approved the individual products.
Hong Kong traders should be aware that the press release also announced that the Danish Environmental Protection Agency is to launch a project to investigate which fragrances are typically found in squishy toys, including volatile substances. This study will also assess whether chemical substances are problematic for children’s health when they play with such toys.
By way of conclusion, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency communicated the three following tips:
- Choose squishy toys that do not smell of perfume or have other strong chemical odours;
- Buy CE-marked squishy toys;
- If you have purchased a product that smells of chemicals, you should use it in a well–ventilated area.
Hong Kong sellers may wish to be apprised of the CE marking under the EU’s toy safety Directive (Directive 2009/48/EC). The letters “CE” appear on many products traded on the extended Single Market in the European Economic Area (EEA – which comprises all current 28 Member States and the additional countries of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein). The CE marking signifies that products sold in the EEA have been assessed to meet the required safety, health, and environmental protection requirements.
When a consumer buys a teddy bear (or any other toy), phone, or television set, he must be able to find the CE mark on them. By affixing the CE marking to a product, a manufacturer declares that the product meets all the legal requirements for CE marking and can be sold throughout the EEA. Naturally this also applies to products made in other countries, such as Hong Kong or mainland China, that are sold in the EEA.
The two main benefits of CE marking are that businesses know that products that validly bearing the CE marking can be traded in the EEA without restrictions; and consumers enjoy the same level of health, safety, and environmental protection throughout the entire EEA.
Comprehensive guidance on the implementation of EU product rules, including CE marking (the guidance is very handy for toy manufacturers, among others) can be found in the so-called Blue Guide.