10.4.4. Contact and non-food consumer products
Exposures to non-food consumer products, especially if
intended for application on the skin or mucosa as in the case for tattoo and
piercing products, may result in different health effects such as allergies,
which may be difficult to identify. For a detailed description of contact
dermatitis associated with piercing see Annex 1 of Chapter 5.13.
The increasing production, trade and use of manufactured goods
– e.g. cosmetics, personal care products, cleaning agents, electronics,
clothing, cars, adhesives, paints, spray cans, paper, plastics, toys and
jewellery – account for most of the flows of chemicals in today’s society as
well as to the increasing exposure towards them for both people and the
environment. There are growing concerns about environmental and health effects
of diffused chemical releases arising from the manufacturing (see Chapter
8.1.2.) and use of consumer products. For instance, low exposures to tin
compounds, substances which may act as endocrine disruptors could arise from
consumer products e.g. textiles.
One way of signalling the extent to which consumer
products pose a risk to human health is through the EU rapid alert systems.
These include the Rapid Alert Systems for Food and Feed products (RASFF) and
the Community Rapid Information System (RAPEX) for non-food consumer products.
These two indices are used for recording the number of health risks reported
for consumer products.
Ensuring high standards of consumer safety in the common
market is one of the main objectives of the Community. The safety of non-food
consumer products is ensured by a wide range of sectoral legislation (e.g. the
many Directives on cosmetic products) and complemented by the General Product
Accidents involving non-food products and/or consumer
services (i.e. tourism services, sports and leisure services) are numerous.
Given the fact that the majority of injuries occur in the “home, leisure and
sports” domain and that in the majority of home, leisure and sports accidents
some kind of “product” is involved (see Figure 7.23), the importance of
consumer safety to become involved in injury protection is obvious.
Accidents and injuries associated to non-food consumer
products need to be prevented by making sure that safety requirements
applicable to products are appropriate and adequately enforced (see also
Chapter 7). To facilitate this, it is also essential to have an effective
injury monitoring and reporting system which can identify the nature of the
injury and that of the product and/or service, as well as the circumstances of
the injury. The EU Injury Data Base (IDB) identifies products involved in
accidents and injuries and can provide a minimum broad evidence base for
consumer protection in the area of products and services safety. This
information can then be used by regulators and product developers to ensure
continuous improvements in safety and reduction of injuries Community-wide. Valuable
information for policy makers on the safety of products and services can be
found at the web portals of the European Consumers Association (BEUC) www.beuc.org, the European Association of
Consumer Representatives in Standardization (ANEC) www.anec.org, and the Product Safety
Enforcement Forum (PROSAFE) www.prosafe.org
(see also Chapter 7).