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Fact Sheet: Phthalates in toys and childcare articles

In Denmark, there is a ban on the use of phthalates in toys and childcare articles for children aged 0-3 years. Within the EU, there are also additional rules for six specific phthalates in toys and childcare articles for children aged 0-14 years.

Phthalates are used as plasticisers, primarily in PVC, and can also be used in paint and adhesives. 

Danish ban – toys and childcare articles for children aged 0-3 years

Denmark has national rules regarding the use of phthalates in toys and childcare articles for children aged 0-3 years. In Denmark, there is a ban on the import, sale and use of phthalates in toys and childcare articles for children aged 0-3 years if the products contain more than 0.05 per cent by weight of phthalates.

Toys are defined as any product or article that is clearly designed or intended for play purposes for children aged 0-3 years, whilst childcare articles are defined as any product or article that is intended to be or would normally be expected to be placed in the mouths of children aged 0-3 years. The restriction applies to products such as dolls, rattles and other toys for children under 3 years and nursing pillows, baby carriers, dummies, bathing equipment and jewellery.

The ban on all phthalates in toys and childcare articles for children aged 0-3 years is a Danish ban and does not apply generally within the EU. Enterprises must therefore exercise particular caution when importing these products from other EU countries.

EU prohibition – toys and childcare articles for children aged 0-14 years

There are also restrictions that apply throughout the EU. It is prohibited within the EU to manufacture, import or sell toys and childcare articles for children aged 0-14 years:

  • if the products contain the phthalates DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate), DBP (Dibutyl phthalate) and BBP (Butyl benzyl phthalate)
  • if products which could be placed in the mouth contain the phthalates DINP (Diisononyl phthalate), DIDP (Diisodecyl phthalate) and DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate).

It is generally assumed that a product or part thereof could be placed in the mouth if one dimension is less than 5 cm.

The products must not contain more than 0.1 per cent by weight of the above phthalates.

Phthalates may impair fertility

The restrictions have been introduced in order to protect our health, as animal tests have shown that some phthalates can impair fertility. Other phthalates are suspected of having endocrine-disrupting effects.

The restrictions have been introduced in order to limit the contact of young children in particular with toys and childcare articles for young children containing phthalates. This is because the phthalates are not bound to the plastic and are therefore released from the toy over time as they are used by the children. Phthalates can also be released into the air and dust in the indoor climate.

Manufacturers, importers and dealers are responsible

Anyone who manufactures, imports or sells toys and childcare articles is responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations. Enterprises must ensure that their products do not contain unlawful phthalates.

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency's Chemicals Inspection Service carries out inspection to ensure compliance with the regulations and ensures that unlawful circumstances are legitimised. This may mean that the product must be withdrawn from the Danish market or that the product must be made lawful in some other way. Contraventions of the regulations may in addition be punished by a fine or imprisonment for up to two years.

When do the restrictions apply?

Since 1999, it has been prohibited in Denmark to manufacture, import and sell toys and certain childcare articles containing phthalates for children under 3 years.

Since 16 January 2007, it has also been prohibited to manufacture and import toys and childcare articles for children up to the age of 14 years containing the phthalates DEHP, DBP and BBP. In the case of toys or childcare articles that can be placed in the mouth, the ban also applies to the phthalates DINP, DIDP and DNOP. Since 16 April 2007, the sale of these products has also been prohibited.

The restrictions also apply to old and used toys, which must not be sold after the cut-off date if they do not comply with the regulations.

More information

The ban on phthalates in toys for children under 3 years can be found on the Retsinformation website:
Statutory Order No. 855 of 5 September 2009 on the ban on phthalates in toys and childcare articles . (at retsinfo.dk)

Guidance concerning bathing equipment and phthalates: http://www.mst.dk/Virksomhed_og_myndighed/Kemikalier/Fokus+paa+saerlige+produkter/Legetoej/Badeudstyr/

Guidance concerning toys and childcare articles which can be placed in the mouth:
Guidance Document on the interpretation of the concept "which can be placed in the mouth" (pdf at ec.europa.eu)

Additional EU regulations are described in Annex XVII to the REACH Regulation:
Annex XVII, nos. 51 and 52 in the EU's chemicals legislation REACH (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006). (pdf on the EUR-Lex website)

See also:
Phthalates in school equipment (erasers)
Phthalates in Diddl lunchboxes

Business guidance on phthalates

In connection with the postponement of the Danish ban on four problematic phthalates, a series of agreements between the Ministry and the industries were concluded. This business guidance on phthalates is part of the agreement.

Click here to read the business guidance on phthalates.