Flammability standard for toys: Draft Commission Decision rejects German’s formal objection

In September 2012, the Federal Republic of Germany raised a formal objection against the harmonized standard EN 71-2:2011, "Safety of Toys – Part 2: Flammability”. The legislative reference of the objection was the Directive 2009/48/EC on the safety of toys.

Article 4.1 of the disputed standard states that materials such as celluloid (cellulose nitrate), or materials with the same behavior in fire as celluloid, should not to be present in toys, except when they are used in varnish, paint or glue, or in balls of the type used for table tennis or similar games. The German Authorities mainly objected to the sentence "materials with the same behavior in fire as celluloid", which is not precise or specific enough, particularly as far as fluffy balls products are concerned.

Fluffy balls are toys which have come onto the market in growing numbers and several RAPEX and ICSMS notifications show that these toys have raised concerns over aspects such as flammability and fire behavior. Tests have been carried out by the German Authorities on the basis of the standard EN 71-2:2006 + A1:2007.

It was established that the fire behavior of the test samples is not comparable to that of a celluloid. The behavior of Fluffyballs could be a lot more dangerous than the one of celluloid as a result of their typical structure, as “highly flammable solids”, e.g. dripping parts continue to burn and reach temperatures that may cause other components in the toy to explode. The German authorities have concluded that the requirement of the Toys Safety Directive “if they do ignite, they burn slowly and present a low rate of spread of the flame and its specification under section 4.1 of the standard EN 71-2:2011 are not deemed sufficient with regard to Fluffy balls.”

In contrast, the recent Draft EU Commission Decision states that the definitions of "highly flammable solids" and "materials with the same behavior in fire as celluloid" are not identical, but their comparison shows that toys banned by the former prohibition on "highly flammable solids" would also be banned by the current prohibition on "materials with the same behavior in fire as celluloid".  The comparison of the definitions therefore refutes the assertion in the German authorities' position that EN 71-2:2011 would have deleted the notion of "highly flammable solids" without substituting it.

Consequently, considering the information submitted by the German authorities, the wording of harmonized standards EN 71-2:2006+A1:2007 and EN 71-2:2011, the reference to standard EN 71-2:2011 will not be withdrawn from, nor subjected to a restriction in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Andrei Panea

Regulatory Affairs Department


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