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The ticking bomb of hazardous chemicals in consumer products


06 Oct 2011


Health & Consumers

ANEC calls on the European Union to wake up to the ticking bomb of hazardous chemicals in consumer products. At the moment, there is little – if any – regulation of these chemicals at European level, be it in childcare articles, electrical and electronic equipment or construction products. The regulations that do exist are vague or have so many exemptions that the result is the same: consumers continue to be exposed to hazardous chemicals in everyday articles. It is now urgent to address the gaps in existing product legislation and adopt a coherent horizontal approach to chemicals in products in order to ensure the high level protection that consumers deserve.

Clothes, toys, furniture - and even hygiene products - contain a cocktail of hazardous substances to which we are all exposed daily. But no one seems to be worried about this, at least at the political level.

Following a recent research report, commissioned by the Consumer Council of the Austrian Standards Institute (ASI-CC)1, ANEC warns about the flaws in existing European legislation (e.g. the Toy Safety Directive) and its inability to ensure a high level of protection to consumers. Although the REACH Regulation will see many chemical substances assessed, and possibly placed subject to authorisation, it will not apply to many substances contained in the products that consumers use every day.

Stephen Russell, ANEC Secretary General, said: “Consumers’ health and safety related to hazardous chemicals in consumer products will never be ensured without revision of the entire European legislative framework related to consumer products. The upcoming revision of both the General Product Safety Directive and the Ecodesign Directive are opportunities not to be missed.”

Stephen Russell added: “This was the message ANEC wanted to convey at yesterday’s conference ‘How to eliminate hazardous chemicals from consumer articles?’, co-hosted by ANEC, BEUC and the ASI-CC. The wide attendance and active contribution of delegates at the conference attests to our success in launching a European wide debate among legislators and stakeholders on the need to address gaps in existing legislation as soon as possible.”


1 The study is available via the ANEC position paper “Chemicals in consumer products: The need for a European legislative framework” at the link:

ANEC in brief

Raising standards for consumers

ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation, defending consumer interests in the processes of technical standardisation and conformity assessment as well as related legislation and public policies. ANEC was established in 1995 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law and represents consumer organisations from 31 European countries. ANEC is funded by the European Union and EFTA, with national consumer organisations contributing in kind. Its Secretariat is based in Brussels.

More information:

Contact: Laura Degallaix

+32 (0)496 23 21 42

European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation, AISBL

Av. de Tervueren 32, box 27 – B-1040 Brussels, Belgium - phone +32-2-743 24 70 - fax +32-2-706 54 30

E-mail: - internet:



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