Within the European Union, all toys are checked. But be careful, the “CE” label, even if it means that the toy complies with strict and precise safety requirements, set at European level, is affixed by the manufacturer himself. With the recent product recalls, multiple checks and labels are no longer enough. At the time of purchase, you must be vigilant at different offers. Our tips to learn to recognize and avoid toxic toys.
Toys Toxic: Before Buying, Know the Harmful Products
What harmful products are likely to be present in your children’s toys? Small note:
– Phthalates are chemical components used to soften plastic, they are very present in inflatable toys. Phthalates, which are harmful to the child’s reproductive system, are partly banned by the European Union in products for children under three years of age since 1999. It is therefore important to give preference to toys made in Europe.
– Bisphenol A (BPA): Hormonal disruptor, the bisphenol regularly defrays the chronic, especially by its use in certain food plastics. It would be more present in polycarbonate toys.
– Heavy metals: lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, etc. are toxic products also known as heavy metals. They can be responsible for diseases such as encephalopathies, anemias and lead poisoning and are present in certain paints in particular.
– Formaldehyde or formaldehyde is found in varnishes of wooden toys. It is an organic carcinogenic compound.
– Synthetic fragrances: used to mask the smell of all these substances and/or used for pedagogical purposes and to develop the senses of children, perfumes are allergenic. They can cause fevers, asthma, and dermatitis.
Toys: when buying, adopt the right gestures
According to the environmental safety associations (and in particular WECF, Women in Europe for a Common Future), several precautions must be taken when buying a toy to avoid toxicity:
– Use natural materials (organic cotton, raw wood, natural paint, etc.)
– Avoid PVC (contains chlorine and phthalates) and plywood (contains formaldehyde)
– Check that the toys are resistant to sweat and to saliva.
– Avoid perfumed toys (synthetic perfume most of the time)
– Prefer quality rather than quantity.
– Allow new toys to ventilate before using them to remove solvents. And wash the new fluff.
– Test the toy yourself to ensure that certain parts do not come loose and cannot be swallowed.
For comfort and safety, the FJP (French Federation of Industries Jouet Puériculture) advocates before the purchase of:
– Compare, for the same item, what is offered to you in stores and catalogs. If they exist, check the comparative tests conducted by consumer organizations.
– Do not buy an article of childcare only according to its aesthetic (color …).
– Ask the seller for advice: for some items, require a demonstration.
– Check that the operating instructions are written in French.
Toys: what labels to trust?
It should be noted that not all labeling and certification criteria are strict enough, it is better to rely on labels issued by independent bodies. Here are some examples :
For ecological toys:
– NF Environnement: Created in 1991, NF Environnement is the French official ecological certification. (More on www.marque-nf.com )
For wooden toys:
– FSC is an eco-label that ensures that the production of a wood-based product has respected procedures that are supposed to guarantee the sustainable management of forests.
For general quality:
– Spiel Gut is a German label that tests toys by a group of pedagogues, psychologists, doctors, technicians … and parents. It reserves its logo to the best toys of the market.
– Oko test is a German consumer magazine that tests consumer products. It is more a guarantee of quality of respect for the environment than a label.
– Geprüfte Sicherheit assigns its label to products conforming to technical safety regulations.
– The textile trust of Oeko Tex controls the harmful substances of the textile products.
Toys Toxic: to go further
The RAPEX site
Because the toy represents 30% of the product recalls, the RAPEX site lists risky products every week. This European warning program prevents the sale of harmful items in all areas except food, pharmaceutical and medical.
WECF’s toy guide
Women in Europe for a Common Future is an association that today forms a network of about 100 organizations. Among its many objectives, this association works for the elimination of hazardous chemicals from all consumer products. The association has published a toy guide to advise parents on their various purchases: dolls, plush toys, wooden toys, plastic, drawing, paints, and cosmetics.