Dangerous recycling: how highly toxic substances end up in everyday plastic products

Toys, key rings, hair ornaments: cheap items made from recycled plastic may contain toxic substances, according to a study. It is about so-calledbrominated flame retardants, most of which come from electrical waste, as the federation for environmental and nature conservation (BUND) announced on wednesday, citing an EU-wide study by several environmental associations. In certain cases, the regulations for the content in recycled products are more lax than for virgin material.

Altogether approximately 110 articles from 19 european union countries had been analyzed. "Only nine of the samples tested did not show elevated concentrations of pbdes", it is called in the BUND investigation. PBDE stands for polybrominated diphenyl ethers. In the ten products tested in germany, elevated concentrations were found in nine cases, measured against the limit value for new products, it was reported.

Three of the most dangerous substances in the world

A total of three substances had been searched for, which, according to BUND chemical expert manuel fernandez, are among the most dangerous in the world. Under the so-called stockholm convention, they are listed as persistent organic pollutants to be banned worldwide. The fact that toxins that are actually already banned are coming back into circulation in recycled products is "scandalous". The background of the regulations was obviously the intention to achieve higher recycling rates. Better controls are now urgently needed.

According to BUND, the toxins, which interfere with hormonal processes, can be absorbed through the air we breathe and our skin, for example. Even if small children put contaminated toys in their mouths, an ingestion is possible.

According to BUND, the substances can damage the nervous system and impair thyroid function. Children were at risk of learning and behavioral disorders. The flame retardants were previously used, for example, in computer housings to ensure that they met safety standards.

The study, however, does not suggest that recycling plastic is still sensible and important: even now, tons of plastic from cosmetics end up in nature and harm the environment in the long term.

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