Regulation of chemicals in children’s products: How U.S. and EU regulation impacts small markets

Toys and children’s products may contain trace metals and organic compounds that are potentially harmful to the health and development of infants and young children. Intergovernmental organizations and individual countries regulate chemicals in consumer products, but a coordinated international approach is lacking. This study examines the implications of chemical regulation in children’s products in large markets for a smaller market, namely Israel. The authors compared chemical regulations in children’s products in the U.S., EU and Israel, and conducted in-depth interviews with diverse stakeholders in the Israeli product standardisation process. Israel adopted EU chemical standards for certain chemicals (e.g., trace metals, phthalates) but not others (e.g., bisphenol A, flame retardants, trace metals in children’s jewellery). Israeli regulation of chemicals in consumer products relies on regulations in large markets such as the U.S. and EU, which therefore have impacts beyond their territories. However, Israel adopts only product-specific standards and has regulatory gaps due to the lack of an overarching regulatory approach that exists in the U.S. and the EU. Furthermore, Israeli policy is to adopt parallel standards from large markets in order to remove trade barriers, despite their different approaches to chemical regulation, an approach which prioritises trade considerations over health considerations. The authors conclude with policy recommendations for Israel, which have relevance for other small markets.

Authors: Negev M, Berman T, Reicher S, Balan S, Soehl A, Goulden S, Ardi R, Shammai Y, Hadar L, Blum A, Diamond ML. ; Full Source: Science of the Total Environment. 2017 Nov 8;616-617:462-471. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.198. [Epub ahead of print]