Health for humans, animals & plants

Contaminants in the dyes of colored pencils

Final report of the priority action A-047-19

The aim of the focus action was to test colorants in crayons or painting supplies for contaminants, especially for the presence of banned plasticizers or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

33 samples from all over Austria were examined. 20 samples were rejected (in some cases several times):

  • Five samples were rejected for safety deficiencies thereof:
    • three samples due to high migration values concerning lead
    • one sample due to high migration values for lead and zinc
    • one sample due to a too thin packaging foil
  • the remaining complaints concerned labeling deficiencies such as inadequate or contradictory warnings, missing CE marking, missing or inadequate EC declaration of conformity.

The examination for prohibited plasticizers or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons did not result in any complaints due to exceeded limit values. Colored pencils or painting supplies are considered toys unless they are intended for artistic purposes. A distinction is also made as to whether the crayons are suitable for children under or over the age of three - large, easy-to-grip crayons with a limited range of colors are suitable for children as young as two.

For certain elements (a total of 17 different elements such as lead, arsenic, chromium VI, mercury or boron), migration limits are set by different toy materials, among others. In the case of colored pencils, children can ingest the toy material either via the lead itself or the externally applied coatings (e.g. varnish, foil sheath).

Last updated: 18.07.2022

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