Health and Safety Authority orders products containing restricted chemicals removed from sale

Tuesday 13th March

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has participated in a European-wide project, coordinated by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), to test consumer products for restricted chemicals.

The project, entitled “REF-4”, involved inspectors in 27 European Union countries checking over 5,500 products for the presence of restricted chemical substances.  Approximately 18% of products assessed were not in compliance with REACH, the EU chemical safety regulation.

In Ireland, HSA inspectors checked low-budget jewellery as well as glues and adhesives for the presence of restricted chemicals. 

Of the 37 jewellery products tested, inspectors found:

  • 8% were non-compliant with the allowed levels for nickel,
  • 13% with the levels for lead, and
  • 5% with the levels for cadmium.

All non-compliant products were removed from the market.

HSA inspectors also assessed 16 glues and adhesives for the presence of the restricted chemical substances benzene, chloroform and toluene.  These products were all found to be compliant and did not contain any of the restricted chemicals.

Speaking about the dangers restricted chemicals can pose, Kevin Buckley, senior inspector with the HSA said:

“Exposure to excess nickel can cause dermatitis. Long-term lead exposure can damage the nervous system and be especially hazardous for children. Ingesting lower levels of cadmium, over a long period, can lead to kidney damage and cause bones to become fragile.”

A potential source of exposure could be if a piece of jewellery is swallowed or is repeatedly sucked or mouthed. Exposure can also occur due to frequent hand-to-mouth contact after handling.”

In relation to preventing these products getting onto the market, Kevin Buckley said:

Importers, manufacturers and distributors should be aware of the legal requirements governing the safety of products containing restricted chemicals.  Retailers selling the products should check with their suppliers to ensure that their existing stock is compliant and all non-compliant stock should be removed from the shelves. And finally consumers can also check the EU’s RAPEX system on the web, where potentially hazardous consumer products, identified across the EU, are listed weekly.”

Throughout 2018 inspectors from the  HSA will continue to assess consumer products as part of their wider market surveillance activities. The Authority will be checking to ensure products containing restricted chemicals are not placed on the Irish market.

Further details on the REF-4 project at an EU-wide level can be found at:

The Rapid Alert System (RAPEX) for non-food dangerous products can be found at: