In an article published on April 17, 2017 by the Nigerian edition of the newspaper The Guardian, journalist Chinedum Uwaegbulam reports on the presence of hazardous flame retardants in children’s toys made from recycled plastics. Uwaegbulam cites a recent study conducted by the global civil society network IPEN and the Czech environmental organization Arnika. The survey covered children’s products from 26 countries and focused on the brominated flame retardants (BFRs) octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE, CAS 32536-52-0), decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE, CAS 1163-19-5), and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD, CAS 3194-55-6). These substances are suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), “adversely impacting the development of the nervous system and children’s intelligence,” Uwaegbulam explains. 90% of the samples contained OctaBDE or DecaBDE, and 43% of samples contained HBCD, Uwaegbulam further informs. OctaBDE, DecaBDE, and HBCD “are used in the plastic casings of electronic products and if they are not removed, they are carried into new products when the plastic is recycled,” Uwaegbulam illustrates. “Recycling materials that contain toxic chemicals contaminates new products, continues exposure, and undermines the credibility of recycling,” stated Pamela Miller, co-chair of IPEN, in the network’s press release. IPEN and Arnika call on governments to “end this harmful loophole.”
Perpetuation of toxic chemicals in recycled articles is also of concern for food contact materials (FCMs) (FPF reported). A 2013 study found BFRs in black plastic FCMs available on the European market and made partially from recycled electronic waste (FPF reported). A 2014 study also found BFRs in Korean polystyrene (PS) FCMs (FPF reported).
Chinedum Uwaegbulam (April 17, 2017). “‘Recycling plastics contaminate children’s toys with toxic chemicals.’” The Guardian
Arnika (August 31, 2016). “Toxic chemicals from e-waste found in brain-toys sold in markets in sixteen countries.”
Tammy Lovell (April 21, 2017). “UN treaty listed flame retardants found in recycled plastic toys.” Chemical Watch
IPEN and Arnika (April 2017). “POPs recycling contaminates children’s toys with toxic flame retardants.” (pdf)