Fragrances in children's toys cause contact allergies
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warns that children's toys often contain allergenic fragrances, which, along with nickel, belong to "the contact allergens with the highest sensitization rates in the population". There may be a life-long allergy. "Sensitization and triggering of allergic contact dermatitis can only be prevented by avoiding or minimizing allergen exposure", but the limit values applicable to children's toys are too high, according to the BfR.
Many children are already sensitized to fragrances and nickel According to the BfR, around ten percent of children are already sensitized to nickel, and around two percent are sensitized to fragrances. However, contact with the potential allergy triggers can hardly be avoided, as these are often found in everyday objects such as children's toys that the little ones come into contact with for hours. The more often and more intensively a child comes into contact with the allergenic substances, "the higher the likelihood that a contact allergy will develop," a BfR spokeswoman told the news agency "dpa". The contact allergy is shown by skin reactions such as reddening, blistering and oozing "up to more serious inflammations", according to the BfR. The sensitization remains for a lifetime after the first appearance, is not curable and only the symptoms can be treated. BfR warns that contact with allergenic substances such as nickel or certain fragrances should be avoided as far as possible in childhood.
Stricter legal regulations for the fragrance content in children's toys In the opinion of the BfR, the current legal regulations for children's toys do not do justice to the protection of children, since, for example, the European toy directive did not stipulate a limit value for the release of nickel and the permitted limit values for fragrances are clearly increased lie high. The BfR therefore calls for the limit values of the so-called REACH regulation on nickel release from "products with direct and longer skin contact" (e.g. jewelry, clothing) to be extended to toys. Furthermore, toys for children under the age of three should generally not contain any fragrances and for children's toys for older children there should be a Europe-wide limit of ten milligrams per kilogram, the BfR said.
Too high limits for fragrances in children's toys Currently 55 known allergenic "fragrances and fragrance ingredients are prohibited according to the new EU toy directive, eleven other fragrances are subject to declaration because of their allergenic potential", reports the BfR. But the ban does not mean that the children's toys are actually free of the substances. Because, according to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, "traces of these prohibited fragrances up to 100 milligrams per kilogram of toy material are permitted." This limit is clearly too high. The 55 banned allergenic fragrances should in principle not be detectable in children's toys, the BfR experts demand. The BfR proposes a limit of ten milligrams per kilogram of material for the eleven fragrances that require declaration, but this only applies to children's toys for adolescents over three years of age. In the opinion of the BfR, the general ban on fragrances must apply to toys for younger children.
Health risk from fragrances in children's toys The fragrances in children's toys largely consist of artificially produced chemical substances that do not serve a technical purpose, but only stimulate the sense of smell, said the BfR spokeswoman. Sensory and primarily buying stimuli should be addressed here. The teddy not only has to be cozy, but also smell good. However, the use of the fragrances in cuddly toys and the like can pose a considerable health risk for children. Some of them develop contact allergies through constant contact with the fragrances, which they then accompany throughout their lives. According to the BfR, this affects approximately two percent of all children in Germany, with the proportion being 12 percent among children who are already in a dermatological clinic for treatment.
Excessive concentration of allergens in children's toys Of the approximately 2,500 existing fragrances, only a few trigger a contact allergy, nevertheless caution is advised when it comes to toys that smell badly. The allergic reaction of contact allergy does not occur when you first touch the allergens, but only develops over time. If those affected are sensitized, renewed contact with the substances leads to sometimes violent reactions on the skin, which can range from slight reddening to blistering and wheals to severe inflammation. In order to avoid sensitization or allergic contact eczema, according to the BfR communication "preventive measures are necessary." This means that contact with the allergens must be avoided or minimized. The "dermal exposure of children to allergenic fragrances from toys" would in principle be avoidable if stricter guidelines apply, according to the BfR. The experts claim that the concentration of allergens in children's toys should be significantly reduced or, ideally, that the use of the substances should be completely avoided.
Contact allergy can have a lasting effect on the course of life. Contact allergy results in so-called contact eczema, which occurs after 24 to 48 hours as "skin disease with itching, redness, swelling, scaling and blistering", reports the BfR. According to the experts, contact eczema can lead to “a considerable burden and impairment of the quality of life” for those affected. Under certain circumstances, a chronic course of eczema threatens. Contact allergy can also have a lasting impact on the child's life course, for example because certain professions are no longer an option. Therefore, the manufacturers of children's toys are also obliged here and should avoid potentially allergy-causing substances in the interests of their customers' health. However, since the willingness of the children's toy manufacturers to voluntarily forego fragrances in their products has not yet been recognized, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment is now campaigning for a stricter legal regulation at EU level for the second time. This should also limit the content of fragrances in cuddly toys, dolls, balls, puzzles and toy cars more rigorously. The BfR provides a detailed justification for the demands in the statement "Contact allergens in toys: Health assessment of nickel and fragrances" (fp)
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