Children and chemicals

In the past fifty years, the size of global chemicals production has become over fifty times larger. Even though the chemicals legislation has been developed over the course of the same period and protects us better today than in the past, many of the products that we use every day both contain and emit hazardous chemicals.

Unborn children, small children and even adolescents can also be more sensitive to chemicals than adults. Their brains, immune system and endocrine system are not fully developed and they breathe faster and eat and drink more in proportion to their own bodyweight than adults do. Small children who are investigating their surroundings by touching and tasting things are especially vulnerable. Consequently, it is a good idea to take a close look at their local environment and attempt to avoid products that contain chemicals that may involve an increased risk.

Hazardous chemicals

Everything on the earth and in the universe is made up of chemical substances and far from all of them are harmful to us or the environment. But some chemicals may be dangerous if they are handled incorrectly. There are different types or hazardous chemicals. Those that have a direct effect and those that have a longer term impact on the body. Chemical products such as petrol, lighter fluid and sink unblocking fluid are labelled with warning symbols that are there to inform people about the risk. But other types of product such as furniture and electronics are rarely labelled with any information about how the chemical content could affect your child. Consequently, the intention of this website is to provide advice about how you can minimise the presence of hazardous chemicals in children’s environments.

Who is responsible?

Companies that manufacture, import and sell chemical products are responsible for ensuring their products are labelled with warning symbols. The label has to clearly state how the product is to be used in a correct way and that the product may have an impact on health and the environment. Products such as clothes, electronics and furniture may sometimes contain certain substances that the EU has agreed are of very high concern and which are therefore on the EU’s list of substances of very high concern. As a consumer, you have the right to know which substances of very high concern the product contains and the seller is obliged to provide you with an answer. Page Your right to information contains more information about your rights as a customer.

Different supervisory authorities check that companies in Sweden comply with the legislation for various areas that may concern children and chemicals. The Swedish Chemicals Agency conducts inspections of individual chemical products that are on sale, the Swedish National Food Agency is the supervisory authority for food and anything that children may ingest via foodstuffs and the Swedish Medical Products Agency inspects medicinal products and cosmetics. More information about each of these areas can be obtained from the respective authority.