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Besides of being classified hazardous for the human health PAH-substances are also hazardous for the environment. They are unwanted substances, which do not upgrade material properties. PAHs are present as impurities in some raw materials used in the production of plastic and rubber parts of a wide range of consumer articles, such as hand tools, sport equipments, clothing, toys, and office supplies

The most hazardous PAH-substances are classified as carcinogens. This is why EU decided a couple of years ago to restrict their uses in certain materials used in consumer goods. Articles or parts which contain PAH-substances may cause a risk to consumer’s health by ingestion, inhalation and skin contact.

The restriction of 8 PAH substances, which came into force from 27 December 2015 focuses on plastic or rubber parts of consumer products (articles), which in normal use come into prolonged or short-term repetitive contact with the human skin or oral cavity. The content of any of the 8 PAH substances in such rubber or plastic part shall not be greater than 1 mg/kg.

Following examples of articles, which have to comply with the new requirements on PAHs (listed in the official text of EU Regulation no. 1272/2013

  • Tools for domestic use and sport equipment such as bicycles, golf clubs and racquets
  • Household utensils, trolleys, walking frames
  • Clothing, footwear, gloves and sportswear
  • Watch-straps, wrist-bands, masks, head-bands

Furthermore, a twice smaller limit i.e 0,5 mg/kg has been specified for toys and childcare articles.

The PAH restriction applies to all the EU countries. Different market area shall however be taken into account. Germany has been an active country relating to PAHs, and has followed 18 PAH substances concentrations in certain consumer products. Germany has also defined limits to their concentrations. In addition the voluntary GS certification applicable to certain electrical products includes a risk assessment of PAH as well as PAH-testing of certain product components when necessary.

This new restriction is a part of a wider restriction procedure on hazardous substances concentrations in consumer products within the European Union. The annex XVII to REACH Regulation specifies restrictions on marketing. It concern mainly consumer products, where given substances or group of substances shall not occur. From this annex it can be found among others phthalates, cadmium. lead, toluene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some of them meet the criteria of substance of very high concern (SVHC), and their use has been earlier restricted by other legislation.

How SGS can help?

SGS offers the following services and testing:

  • Elaboration of test plan based on risk assessment
  • PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in rubber and plastic materials
  • Phthalates in toys and childcare articles
  • Azocolourants and azodyes in textile and leather products
  • Nickel in jewelry, piercing and wrist-watches
  • Cadmium and lead in jewelry, packaging, plastic articles, paints
  • Hexavalent chromium (chromium VI) in leather products
  • Testing of any substances of the annex XVII (according to client´s needs)

More information:

Florent Trilles
Restricted Substances Expert