25 Aug 2017
Danish Consumer Body Finds Suspected Endocrine Disruptors in Majority of Tested Pushchairs
Tests carried out by the Danish Consumer Council’s Think Chemicals Initiative has found carcinogenic and suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in more than half of the pushchairs tested by the group. Think Chemicals has said that exposure from a single product is “not necessarily problematic in itself”, but it contributes to children's combined exposure to hazardous chemicals from different sources.
More specifically, substances such as chlorinated paraffins, the flame retardant TCPP, and the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) naphthalene were found in the handles or seats of six out of 11 pushchairs tested.
Although not banned in baby products, naphthalene is classified as possibly carcinogenic, while chlorinated paraffins are on the Danish Environment Protection Agency (EPA)'s list of unwanted substances and is also a suspected EDC.
TCPP is banned in the EU in toys for children up to three years old due to its carcinogenic properties.
The following pushchairs were found to have harmful substances:
- Britax Smile 2 (chlorinated paraffins in the handle);
- Cybex Balios M (chlorinated paraffins in the handle and seat);
- Gb QBIT Plus (chlorinated paraffins in the handle);
- Maxi Cosi Stella (chlorinated paraffins and naphthalene in the handle);
- Mutsy Nexo (TCPP in the seat); and
- Phil and Teds Smart (chlorinated paraffins in the handle and naphthalene in the seat).
Smaller amounts of chlorinated paraffins were found in the handle of the Hauck Rapid 4 pushchair. In three other products only very small amounts of PAHs were present in the handle. These were:
- Baby Jogger City Premier;
- Basson Baby Uno; and
- Joie Litetrax 4.
The Britax B motion 4 Plus pushchair performed best in the test with the least amount of harmful chemicals present.
The test also examined the content of phthalates in the pushchairs, but these were not found in any of the selected products. It is worth noting that the EU already decided to classify four phthalates, DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP as endocrine disrupting chemicals with impacts on human health in February this year.
Endocrine disruptors refer to a group of chemicals that interfere with the body’s sensitive hormonal system. Given their capacity to mimic, interfere and block natural hormones, exposure to even tiny amounts of these chemicals can cause severe and irreversible effects on humans and wildlife. Endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs for short have been linked to severe human health problems, including infertility, genital malformations, early puberty, obesity, cancer and neuro-behavioural disorders.
The EU’s 7th Environmental Action Programme (EAP) committed the European Union to develop, by 2015, horizontal measures to ensure “the minimization of exposure to endocrine disruptors.” Yet, to date, the pace of EU action to protect consumers against EDCs remains, critics argue, inexcusably slow or altogether absent. While several EU laws regulate EDCs in theory, their practical implementation falls short as they lack concrete criteria that define what an ‘endocrine disruptor’ is. As a result, it is widely felt that EDCs escape effective control under current EU laws despite the urgent need to minimise consumer exposure.
Under EU pesticides laws, the European Parliament and Council set December 2013 as a deadline for the European Commission to adopt scientific criteria to determine endocrine disrupting properties. In line with the 7th EAP, these laws oblige the Commission to develop hazard-based EDC criteria based exclusively on scientific evidence related to the endocrine system. In summer 2013, the Commission was about to publish draft EDC criteria. However, it was felt that a coordinated lobbying campaign by the chemicals and pesticides industries derailed the final steps to adoption.
On 15 June 2016, after a delay of almost three years, the European Commission announced a set of proposed criteria for the identification of endocrine disruptors. However controversy remains as the proposed criteria have been criticised for being both wholly insufficient and precluding the inclusion of several widely acknowledged endocrine disruptors.