Chemicals of concern in plastic toys

Environ Int. 2021 Jan:146:106194. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.106194. Epub 2020 Oct 22.


We present a list of Chemicals of Concern (CoCs) in plastic toys. We started from available studies reporting chemical composition of toys to group plastic materials, as well as to gather mass fractions and function of chemicals in these materials. Chemical emissions from plastic toys and subsequent human exposures were then estimated using a series of models and a coupled near-field and far-field exposure assessment framework. Comparing human doses with reference doses shows high Hazard Quotients of up to 387 and cancer risk calculated using cancer slope factors of up to 0.0005. Plasticizers in soft plastic materials show the highest risk, with 31 out of the 126 chemicals identified as CoCs, with sum of Hazard Quotients >1 or child cancer risk >10-6. Our results indicate that a relevant amount of chemicals used in plastic toy materials may pose a non-negligible health risk to children, calling for more refined investigations and more human- and eco-friendly alternatives. The 126 chemicals identified as CoCs were compared with other existing regulatory prioritization lists. While some of our chemicals appear in other lists, we also identified additional priority chemicals that are not yet covered elsewhere and thus require further attention. We finally derive for all considered chemicals the maximum Acceptable Chemical Content (ACC) in the grouped toy plastic materials as powerful green chemistry tool to check whether chemical alternatives could create substantial risks.

Keywords: Chemical alternatives assessment; Child cancer risk; Hazard quotient; High-throughput screening; Human exposure; Prioritization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure* / analysis
  • Humans
  • Plasticizers / analysis
  • Plasticizers / toxicity
  • Plastics*
  • Play and Playthings
  • Risk Assessment


  • Plasticizers
  • Plastics