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Germany loses challenge to maintain heavy metal limits in toy safety

Germany recently lost a challenge to maintain national limits for five soluble heavy metals. Germany will follow the specifications for soluble heavy metals under the Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC. The effective date would be considered as immediate.

In May 2013, the General Court of the European Union (EU) published a press release stating that Germany may continue to apply its existing limits for 5 soluble heavy metals (antimony, arsenic, barium, lead and mercury) in toy materials until a final decision is made by the court1.

On 14 May 2014, the General Court of the EU published Press Release No 72/14 (Judgment in Case T-198/12, Germany vs Commission) to

1. Dismiss Germany’s action regarding soluble arsenic, antimony and mercury

2. Annul the Commission’s decision in so far as it approved the German limits for soluble lead until 21 July 2013

3. Declare, at Germany’s request, that there is no longer any need to adjucate on the action for soluble barium

As a result, Germany in effect will follow the specifications for soluble antimony, arsenic, barium, lead and mercury under the Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC (TSD) with immediate effect2.

Highlights of the Press Release are summarised in Table 1. 

Press Release No. 72/14, General Court of The European Union
Judgment in Case T-198/12 (Germany vs Commission)

Soluble element

Germany Toy Material (mg/kg )


Category I

Category II

Category III

Effective Date





Effective date not specified in Judgment and can be considered as ‘immediate’








18, 750










  • Germany to follow the specifications for soluble heavy metals under the Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC (EN 71-3:2013). This can be considered as immediate.
  • An appeal, limited to points of law only, may be brought before the Court of Justice against the decision of the General Court within 2 months of notification of the decision.
Table 1.



Example of toy material


Dry, brittle, powder like or pliable materials

  • Compressed paint tablets
  • Materials intended to leave a trace or similar materials in solid form (e.g. cores of colouring pencils, chalk and crayons)
  • Bouncy putty, magic sand, plastacine, plaster of Paris and magic sand


Liquid or sticky materials

  • Liquid paints, including finger paints, varnishes, lacquers, liquid ink in pens and similar materials in liquid form (eg slimes and bubble solution)


Scraped-off material

  • Coatings of paints, varnishes, printing inks and similar coatings
  • Polymeric (plastic) and similar materials, including laminates
  • Paper and paper board
  • Natural or synthetic textiles
  • Glass, ceramic or metallic materials
  • Other materials such as bone, fibre board, foam, hard board, leather, natural sponge and wood
Table 2.

Throughout our global network of laboratories, we are able to provide a range of services, including analytical testing and consultancy for soluble heavy metals and other restricted substances in toys for the EU and international markets. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.


1 SGS-Safeguard 119/13

2 Press Release No 72/14, Judgment in Case T-198/12

Email SGS Hong Kong Ltd. at mktg.hk@sgs.com for enquiries or visit http://www.sgsgroup.com.hk/.

Content provided by SGS Hong Kong Limited
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