Within the EU, notifications of dangerous products and subsequent measures are collected within the RAPEX system. The system helps to disseminate information about dangerous products between member states. The European Commission publishes a weekly overview of such notifications on its website. The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) is the National Contact Point for the RAPEX system in Finland.
In 2012, as in previous years, the system received the highest number of notifications on clothing, textiles and fashion items. Once again, ribbons and cords in children's clothing, which pose a risk of strangulation, were banned. Many notifications were also made concerning toys, electrical equipment, motor vehicles and cosmetics. Surveillance of these product groups is being stepped up in many member states. The system also received notifications concerning chemical risks posed by products, for example nickel and cadmium contained in tattoo inks. RAPEX notifications were also made of new types of risks. For example, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC) was discovered in baby wet wipes. According to the Cosmetics Directive, IPBC is banned in leave-on products for children under three years of age.
The number of RAPEX notifications has grown year on year, with the exception of 2011, when the number of notifications clearly fell from the previous year. In 2012, however, the number of notifications increased by 26 per cent year on year.
"Effective, risk-based targeted market surveillance has contributed to the growth in notification volumes. For this reason, the increase in the number of notifications cannot lead us to the direct conclusion that there has been a corresponding rise in the number of dangerous products on the market," says Product Safety Engineer Katri Sihvola from Tukes.
Most notifications in Finland on electrical products and toys
Finnish authorities belonging to the RAPEX network entered a total of 116 notifications in the system in 2012. These concerned products such as toys containing banned phthalates and jewellery releasing cadmium. Other notifications made by Tukes concerned e.g. battery chargers and LED-lamps causing a risk of electrocution and firewood circular saws which have deficiencies in blade guards.
The NLF Decree (New Legislative Framework) obliges authorities in EU countries to notify the Commission through the RAPEX system of market surveillance measures concerning products that may pose a serious environmental risk, or products intended for professional use that pose a serious safety risk to the user. Last year, 31 notifications concerning such products were made in Europe. 39 per cent of these notifications were made by the Finnish authorities. They concerned, for example, a hearing protector as well as the environmental risk caused by packaging materials containing cadmium.
The RAPEX system is very useful for authorities, businesses and consumers. Retailers and buyers are particularly advised to monitor the weekly overviews. In this way, they can avoid the presence of dangerous products in their own store selections, and the expensive consequences. Companies are liable for product safety and under an obligation to notify the authorities about safety risks and dangerous features found in their products.
Katri Sihvola, Product Safety Engineer, telephone +358 (0)29 5052 197, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Annual Report 2012 and weekly reports published by the Commission
Read more on Tukes website