Toxic substances in products

two little boys are playing with plastic toys on the floorClick to enlarge
Plastic toys can contain chemicals harmful to health.
Source: olesiabilkei /

Carpets, notebooks or rubber boots: toxic substances can be found in almost everything. The purpose of environmental and health protection is to steadily reduce the number of toxic substances in products as well as their release from products.

Assessing toxic substances in products is very complex due to the large number of chemicals (substances) and products. It requires a great deal of expertise and knowledge of the market. Information must be available on the hazardous properties of these substances, their patterns of use in a variety of products, and their possible spread in the environment or human organism. Methods for testing the impact of chemicals and chemical analysis methods to trace hazardous substances in the environment or in products must also be available.

The presence of toxic substances in products can in some cases be regulated (restricted) by law depending on the risk for the environment and health. Furthermore how quickly problematic chemicals can be replaced depends on voluntary efforts by manufacturers, the availability of substitutes and the demand for low-pollutant products.

The thematic area “Toxic Substances in Products” focuses, amongst others, on the following questions:

  • What regulations exist on chemicals in products? Are they binding or voluntary?
  • Which chemicals should be avoided in products because of their inherent properties?
  • Which individual chemicals/substance groups in products are of particular concern? How can they be replaced?
  • What are the typical toxic substances found in specific products (electronics, building products, motor vehicles, etc.)?
  • Who are the competent authorities in regard to chemicals in products (adoption of regulations/enforcement)?
  • What analysis methods exist for toxic substances in products?
  • Where and how is data on hazardous substances in products documented?
  • Where can one find products that are low-pollutant and low in consumption of energy and resources?