Should I be worried about press articles on toxic chemicals in consumer products?

Should I be worried about press articles on toxic chemicals in consumer products?

Toxic chemicals in consumer products within the home have featured in a growing number of press and news articles; the portrayal of which has on some occasions been inaccurate, causing a sense of confusion and panic among consumers. At Eurofins | BLC, we understand that retailers and manufacturers need to manage questions that can come from reactions to scare-mongering news articles and documentaries about toxic chemicals, so we have outlined a few areas which can help, including our Essential Strategy for Chemical Compliance.


Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products

The reality is that with so much manufacturing in the developing world and increasing consumer demand for new products and materials, it is only a matter of time before products that contain banned or toxic chemicals enter your supply chain.

A weekly review of the RAPEX report published by the European Commission will highlight many examples of both physically dangerous and chemically toxic products, including product recalls, which have been seized at EU borders. The stark truth is that the RAPEX report is the tip of the iceberg and there are many more accounts of toxic chemicals in consumer products that have not been seized.

It is surprising that in this highly sensitized and chemical-aware consumer environment, we still see importers, brands and retailers not checking that their products are chemically compliant or even correctly labeled. In some cases, we still observe total reliance on supplier declarations alone i.e. third-party verification by an accredited testing laboratory has not been provided.


Understanding the Chemistry of How Things are Made

The fact is that understanding the chemistry of how things are made is challenging for both brands and manufacturers. A recent article ‘exposing’ the possible toxic chemicals in upholstery, mixed day to day unrestricted chemistries with those that are banned or restricted by limits in use. Such articles are often written by people who have little or no knowledge of the regulations, specifications and manufacturing processes behind the product and have the objective of scare-mongering consumers. Such articles are then often copied or re-blogged with no review as to the validity of the original information by a qualified party such as a testing laboratory.

This approach often results in the portrayal that all chemistries used are ‘bad’ or ‘toxic’ and can skew consumer opinions causing panic and confusion, which can have detrimental effects on a specific brand or industry sector. We must remember that nearly everything we use or make today requires chemicals in some form and that the safe limits for chemical use in products and materials are regulated through legislation around the world such as REACH, CPSIA, California Proposition 65, China GB Standards to name a few.


Possessing the Right Knowledge on the Use of Chemicals in Products

At Eurofins | BLC, our advice to businesses is to understand the difference between real chemical issues and sensationalist news. Manufacturers and retailers need to be knowledgeable and informed when it comes to chemical compliance for their industry. In order to achieve this, a business can employ and train chemists and chemical compliance staff to manage these complex situations; however, this can be costly. A more cost-effective approach to is to invest in the chemical compliance and technical support offered by Eurofins | BLC Membership.

Eurofins | BLC Membership can help your business develop a pro-active strategy to manage chemical risk (and other supply chain risks) within your product range. Members can also request support with chemical and material specifications, use online chemical risk management toolkits and take advantage of discounted testing, training and fault diagnosis services.


Eurofins | BLC Essential Strategy for Chemical Compliance

In our opinion, a good offense is the best defense against chemical failures.                                                                                                                                   

Any good strategy will include the basics of product and material sourcing and compliance:

  • Detailed material and product specifications which are the most important starting point when sourcing anything. These specifications will list how a material or product should perform and how it will be measured, what chemicals can or cannot be in the product and at what levels, and how to assess them
  • Intensive training and development for key staff so they can become material and chemical specialists that can facilitate and problem solve situations
  • A testing and verification regime that utilizes both accredited in-house vendor labs and third-party testing strategies will be required
  • A product due diligence programme that assesses the chemical risk in finished articles and covers vendor-selected materials and components that slip through the specification process

The above chemical compliance strategy is an essential system that will help reduce risk however some businesses prefer to acquire enhanced assurance through a long-term supplier improvement strategy which covers many additional areas that will help your business achieve retail Nirvana.


Worried About Toxic Chemicals? Contact a Chemical Compliance Expert

If you have concerns about toxic chemicals in consumer products, chemical compliance or if you want to achieve retail Nirvana, contact one of our chemical experts today to begin the discussion. Email, call +44 (0)1604 679999 or complete the webform below.

1 August 2019

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