Sofeast commissioned some research recently on which chemical compliance incidents occurred in EU countries in the past year 22/23, the substances found, where, and the actions taken by authorities.

Let’s look at issues found in electric household appliances by market surveillance authorities. There were a range of problems found in all sorts of appliances, and since today’s electrical devices use so many different types of materials and are imported in such huge volumes, buckle up, it’s going to be a ride!

Note: we only cover chemical compliance in this article, but it is one of the most important compliance aspects for electric household appliances in general.



What are the main applicable regulations & directives?

In general, we investigated these common regulations and standards that market surveillance authorities tend to check products against:

Electric household appliances could potentially fail to comply with all of the above, especially the first three.


Which regulations didn’t electrical appliances comply with?

Electrical household appliances were one of the top offending product types where compliance issues were found, only toys and children’s products and jewellery were found to have more (and toys will usually always be scrutinized more by market surveillance authorities due to their nature):

total compliance incidents per product category 22 23

In total, products were found to have these problems:

  • REACH – 6
  • RoHS – 29
  • POPs – 17

In some cases, a single product may have failed to comply with more than one of these regulations.


Many restricted substances found in materials often used in electric household appliances

Today’s consumer electronics used in the home commonly use all kinds of plastics and metals. Unfortunately, these are materials that also proved to be risky when it comes to restricted substances being used by manufacturers:

common restricted substances found per material eu uk imports 22 23
Not every instance you see above occurred in electric household appliances, but it does demonstrate that plastics, metals, and metal alloys are particularly problematic materials that you need to be wary of when sourcing and testing for your product.

Household appliances specifically had these restricted substances in them

We can go deeper and show you exactly which restricted substances were found:

restricted substances found in home appliances 22 23

These substances were detected:

  • Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)
  • Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)*
  • Cadmium
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)*
  • Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)
  • Lead*
  • Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs)*

*(Most commonly found. There are many more harmful substances that might be found in electrical devices like these, but at least you can be aware that the above are problems and tell your suppliers to avoid them.)

Why these substances are harmful?

Phthalates are plasticizers which are added to plastics to increase strength, durability, flexibility, and transparency. They’re banned or restricted because they’ve been scientifically shown to disrupt hormones and cause birth defects and are banned under RoHS.

Cadmium is a harmful metal which is often found in metal parts and jewellery as it is a by-product of zinc production, a metal commonly found in these types of products. However, it’s one of the RoHS-banned substances because it is a toxic carcinogen.

Lead is a toxic metal which is known to cause damage to the kidneys and nervous, cardiovascular and reproductive systems, among other illnesses. Lead can be used in solder and is also found in other electrical components and product coatings.

SCCPs are a type of POP that damages multiple organs including the liver, kidney, and thyroid. They are found in electrical devices because they’re often used in metalworking, and they’re also used as plasticizers and flame retardants.


Market surveillance actions taken: recalls and withdrawals from the market

The 30 actions taken can be broken down into the following responses by market surveillance authorities:

  • Withdrawn from market – 18
  • Product listing removed from the marketplace – 10
  • Distributors/retailers stopped selling the product – 2
  • Product banned from being marketed – 1

Interestingly the problems didn’t result in product recalls or products being rejected at the border.

It should be noted that the incidents were picked up by market surveillance authorities from different EU countries:

  • Germany 3x
  • Luxembourg 2x
  • Norway 9x
  • Poland 4x
  • Sweden 40x

Once again, we can see that the Swedish authorities seem to be particularly hot on detecting non-compliant products.

Where did the offending products come from?

The vast majority of the incidents were found in products made in the PRC, but a couple were made in Poland.


General advice to reduce such risks

Make sure you work with suppliers who are aware of the regulations in the countries where the bags are to be sold.

Ask your supplier for confirmation that every material is compliant, with testing reports if possible as evidence.

If you have a doubt, run a risk analysis (and the list of most common issues found, as laid out above, will be useful) and take action. It could mean that you select the suppliers of certain materials directly (and you ensure those are reputable manufacturers that show evidence of compliance) and/or you run some laboratory tests.

Finally, if you are still unhappy about the product’s risk profile, you may have to re-design it and choose less risky materials.


Read about the chemical compliance risks of other product types

About Renaud Anjoran

Our founder and CEO, Renaud Anjoran, is a recognised expert in quality, reliability, and supply chain issues. He is also an ASQ-Certified ‘Quality Engineer’, ‘Reliability Engineer’, and ‘Quality Manager’, and a certified ISO 9001, 13485, and 14001 Lead Auditor.

His key experiences are in electronics, textiles, plastic injection, die casting, eyewear, furniture, oil & gas, and paint.

This entry was posted in Product Testing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *