The German Federal Office for Risk Assessment (BfR) is involved in developing criteria to define maximum voluntary levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in consumer products. A press release published by the BfR on August 9, 2019, announced that the project aims to support developing criteria for issuing the GS Mark, a well-known safety certificate in Germany and other European countries. PAHs are carcinogenic and have been used in rubber materials, elastomers, and plastics. The BfR writes that no exposure to carcinogenic mixtures can be considered harmless, and it believes achieving a PAH product concentration below 0.2 mg/kg should be technically feasible. Currently this limit is already in place for “Category 1” GS Mark products that are intended to be placed in the mouth or have long-term skin contact (longer than 30 seconds). However, the BfR now believes that this criterion could also be applied to “Category 2” products within the label as well, which are intended to have predictable long-term or repeated short term skin contact.

Current EU guidelines have set a limit of 1 mg/kg for eight PAHs in all consumer products, and a limit of 0.5 mg/kg for toys and articles intended for toddlers and infants. The GS Mark label requirements are therefore stricter than these EU standards. In January 2019, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) recognized four new PAHs as substances of very high concern (SVHC) (FPF reported).

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BfR (August 9, 2019). “PAK-Gehalte in Verbraucherprodukten sollten so gering wie möglich sein.” (in German)

Chemical Watch (August 13, 2019). “German certification scheme targets lower PAH content in goods.”