PerkinElmer, Inc.

Determination of formaldehyde content in toys using UV/Vis Spectrometry

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Courtesy of PerkinElmer, Inc.

As product safety regulations for industry are becoming stricter, more testing at lower levels is required for toxic elements or hazardous organic chemicals such as formaldehyde in children’s toys/clothing. Formaldehyde resins are used in fabrics to bind pigments to the cloth, as a fire retardant and to provide stiffness. In cotton and cottonblend fabrics they are used to enhance wrinkle resistance and water repellency. They can often be noted by the odor of treated fabric. The types of resins used include urea-formaldehyde, melamine-formaldehyde and phenolformaldehyde. Resins without formaldehyde are typically much costlier. Increases in temperature (hot days) and increased humidity both increase the release of formaldehyde from coated textiles.

Long term chronic exposure or short-term exposure to high concentrations of formaldehyde can lead to cancer. In animal studies, rats exposed to high level of formaldehyde in air developed nose cancer. The European standard EN 71 specifies safety requirements for toys. EN 71, Part 9 contains requirements for organic chemical compounds in toys and specifies the limit for accessible textile components of toys intended for children under 3 years of age. The limit specified for formaldehyde content is not more than 30 mg/kg or 2.5 mg/L in the aqueous migrate prepared following EN 71, Part 10. EN 71, Part 11, section 5.5.3 specifies a method of analysis.

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