Students learned about the materials in toys on an online chat

Students from nine schools around Europe participated in the Xperimania online chat on “Petrochemistry and toys” on 25 April 2008. Dr. Ralf Eisert, Head of Product Safety and Regulatory Affairs at BASF answered students’ questions on what toys are made of in this spring’s last Xperimania chat.

Dr. Eisert explained the students from Slovenia, Hungary, Spain, Finland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Poland and Germany about the different materials used in the toy industry. Students learned that different petrochemistry-based materials such as polystyrene, polyethylene and PVC are needed to give toys certain properties, like hardness, flexibility and colours.

Students from the Spanish IES La Canal Petrer school wanted to know more about choosing the materials for toys. The chat expert pointed out the close relationship between chemical and toy industry:

“The chemical industry works with toy manufacturers from the initial design idea to the final product when it comes to choose the right materials for toys.”

Many students were interested in toys’ safety. Dr. Eisert affirmed that toys are not made to contain dangerous substances. Before entering on the EU market all the materials used in toys need to be tested. The safety requirements are high and they cover e.g. toys’ physical and chemical safety, flammability and resistance.

Dr. Eisert pointed out also other kinds of safety standards for toys:

“There are further safety requirements which regard e.g. to the age excluding 0 to 3 years old children for risks related to choking, or swallowing small parts in the toys.”

Students from the Danish Marselisbog Gymnasium asked if plastic is a problem. Dr. Eisert strengthened that it is not:

“Plastic does not pose any particular risk, but one should ensure that it is properly used. The material itself is safe.”

The chat expert reminded the students that there are also other materials than plastics – such as wood or metal – which can be used for toys. However plastic is a perfect material for making toys due to its variety of properties, and it will continue to play a major role in toy manufacturing. New materials are developed all the time and they enable the design of new, lighter or more resistant toys in the future.

Download the chat transcript here (pdf).

IES La Canal Petrer School, Spain.
Teacher: Emilio Moncho.
"Nancho Popvich" School, Bulgaria.
Teacher: Silvina Simeonova.
Gimnazija Poljane High School, Slovenia.
Teacher: Breda Policar.
Gimnazija Poljane High School, Slovenia.
Teacher: Breda Policar.
Marselisborg Gymnasium, Denmark.
Teacher: Henning Fisker Langkjer.
Marselisborg Gymnasium, Denmark.
Teacher: Henning Fisker Langkjer.