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CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND RETAIL E-SSENTIALS

Your regular update for technical and industry information

Technical guidance on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

march 2018 - Relevant for: Electrical & electronics, Hardlines, Softlines, Toys & children's products INDUSTRY

What are they?
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), also known as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons consist of fused aromatic rings which are made of carbon and hydrogens. PAHs are organic compounds which exist as environmental pollutants. The formation of PAHs is due to incomplete combustion of petroleum distillates, tobacco and grilling of food. As PAHs poses harmful effects on human health, they are regulated in food, water and ambient air in the European Union. In addition, PAHs can be found in plastic, rubber and coating but it is not intentionally added to the materials. They exist as contaminants in consumer products.

In particular, Germany has concern about PAHs in consumer products. It has been an industry norm to test as per publication from the German Committee for Product Safety, AfPS GS 2014:01 PAK. Some consumer magazines in Germany inspected products with a more stringent PAH requirement. The German Committee is discussing to lower PAHs’ limits and increase the number of restricted substances.

Potential hazards:
Some PAHs are identified as carcinogenic for example benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) which can induce skin tumors. BaP is also classified as mutagenic and toxic to reproduction in the European Union. Humans can be exposed to PAHs via multiple channels e.g. smoking tobaccos, consuming barbecued food and absorbing through direct skin contact.

Commonly found in:
Minerals oils (as a secondary plasticiser) and/or carbon black (as a pigment) are used in plastic and rubber materials. These additives may contain PAHs which exist as contaminants.

Related legislation (non-exhaustive)

  • European Union
    • REACH SVHC Candidate List
    • REACH Annex XVII, entry 50
  • Germany
    • GS-Mark (voluntary)
  • Switzerland
    • Chemical Risk Reduction Ordinance (SR 814.81)
    • Ordinance on items with human contact (SR 817.023.41)

Maximum limits:

  • European Union
    • REACH SVHC Candidate List
      • Substance, mixture and article: 0.1% by weight
    • REACH Annex XVII, entry 50
      • Mixtures - Extender oil used for production of tyres: 1 mg/kg BaP or 10 mg/kg of sum of 8 PAHs
      • Articles - Rubber or plastic components with direct prolonged, or short-term repetitive skin contact or oral cavity
        • Toys and child care articles: 0.5 mg/kg (each of the 8 PAHs)
        • Other articles: 1 mg/kg (each of the 8 PAHs)
  • Germany
    • Materials are classified into 3 categories and follow the limit as specified according to the publication from the German Committee for Product Safety, AfP GS 2014:01 PAK.
      • Category 1: Materials, that are intended to be taken in the mouth or materials in toys with proper and long-term skin contact (longer than 30s)
      • Category 2: Materials, not covered in Cat.1, with foreseeable contact to skin longer than 30s (long-term skin contact) or repeated short-term skin contact
      • Category 3: Materials, that do not fall in Cat. 1 or 2, with foreseeable contact to skin up to 30s (short-term skin contact)
  • Switzerland
    • SR 814.81
      • Mixture which considered to contain tar: 100 mg/kg (each of the 8 PAHs)
      • Articles - Rubber or plastic components with direct prolonged, or short-term repetitive skin contact or oral cavity (excluding infants and young children articles): 1 mg/kg (each of the 8 PAHs)
    • SR 817.023.41
      • Plastic or rubber components used in article for infants and young children: 0.5 mg/kg (each of the 8 PAHs)

How can TÜV SÜD help?
TÜV SÜD has a dedicated technical solutions team to support you with root cause analysis, problem identification, suggestions for improvement and failure minimisation.

  • Training and seminar on understanding the RSL (Restricted Substance List) and MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substance List)
  • Testing services on raw materials and final products
  • Being part of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme, we review the entire value chain of footwear and textiles

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