The use of nickel is currently allowed in toys and toy components made of stainless steel. From 1 July 2015, the permitted use of nickel in stainless steel will be extended to include toy components which are intended to conduct electric current under Directive 2014/84/EU, which amends the list of carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic to reproduction (CMR) substances and their permitted uses in Appendix A of Annex II to the Toy Safety Directive (2009/48/EC).
The amended Appendix A is given in Table 1.
Table 1: Summary of permitted used of nickel in toys
Toys and toy components made of stainless steel
20 July 2013
Toy components which are intended to conduct an electric current
1 July 2015
Nickel (CAS No. 7440-02-0) is a typical metal which has many uses, such as in the production of alloys, in electroplating and in the production of nickel-containing products like batteries and welding electrodes. It is also used in toys to enhance the resistance to corrosion and electrical conductivity, an example being model railroad tracks and battery contacts. Nickel is classified under Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008 as category 2 and in the absence of any specific exemptions, nickel cannot be contained in toys or parts of toy in concentration above 1%.
According to the TSD, substances or mixtures classified as CMR cannot be used in toys if they are prohibited for use in consumer products under the REACH Regulation. This raises the question of whether the nickel restriction under REACH (entry 27 of Annex XVII) will negate this new permitted use. As the REACH restriction only applies to the use of nickel in articles intended to come into direct and prolonged skin contact, and is not a complete ban in all consumer products, this new permitted use of nickel in stainless steel will not be affected.