Nickel for your thoughts
May 7, 2012
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the scientific agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, has released an "updated opinion" regarding nickel in toys.
BfR recommends that the nickel release limit specified in REACH regulation for articles — which is 0.5 µg/cm2/week — should be applied to toys. In other words, that the REACH limit be adopted by the European Toy Directive.
Thoughts for your nickel
Nickel allergy is one of the most common causes of contact allergic dermatitis in all people, not just children. In affected individuals, dermatitis (eczema) develops in places where nickel-containing metal is touching the skin. The most common sites of affliction are earlobes (from earrings), wrists (from a watch strap) and lower abdomen (from a jeans stud). Affected areas become very itchy and sometimes red, sometimes blistered (acute dermatitis) or dry, thickened and pigmented (chronic dermatitis).
Studies have indicated that children’s dermal exposure to nickel from toys can be substantial. The release of nickel from products with direct prolonged skin contact is limited in Europe under the REACH regulation.
However, the European Toy Directive threshold hasn't been set for dermal nickel release from toys.
The BfR says it believes that the limit for nickel release specified in the REACH regulation should also apply to toys consisting of metal alloys and which come into intensive contact with the skin for extended periods of time.
The EU Commission has now confirmed in its “Explanatory Guidance Document” for the Toy Directive that the limit value of the REACH-Regulation has to be applied to associated toys.
Nickel thresholds for toys is likely to happen. With about 10% of children measureably sensitive to nickel release, restriction is somewhat inevitable.