Tips for a chemical-smart everyday life


Certain items in your home, such as textiles, electronics, and furniture, may contain small amounts of hazardous chemicals. The substances do not pose a major risk to you, but since it is good to reduce the total amount of chemicals in your body and to protect the environment, you will find advice and tips here for a more chemical-smart everyday life.

Safe shopping on the web

There is an increased risk that articles that you can buy outside the EU, such as electronic gadgets, toys, home furnishings and textiles, contain substances that are harmful to health. This is because the articles are not subject to the same legal requirements as articles sold in the EU. If you would like to buy a product online, it is therefore good to try to find out if the article is manufactured for sale in the EU. For example, you can search for this information on the company’s website or ask the seller by email or phone.

When it comes to the product groups toys and electronic gadgets, you can look for the CE marking as there are CE marking requirements in the EU for these product groups if the goods are manufactured for sale in the EU.

Read more about safe shopping on the web

Your right to receive information when you shop

When you buy articles in the EU as a private person, you have the right to receive information from whoever is selling the article.

Your right to information includes the following information:

  • If an item you want to buy contains one of the especially hazardous substances that are listed on the EU Candidate List of substances External link..
  • If an item you want to buy has been treated with antibacterial substances or another biocidal product. Biocides can be added to the articles to give the the article a certain function, for example to make an athletic shirt odourless.

Read more about your right to information

Use articles as they are intended to be used

If you use articles as they are intended to be used, you reduce the risk of ingesting hazardous chemical substances or otherwise getting into your body. For example, it is not appropriate for a child to suck on keys, mobile phones or other articles that are not manufactured for use by children. Such articles may contain substances that are prohibited in toys, as the substances may be harmful to children.

However, it can be helpful for persons who take care of children to know that it does not usually pose a serious risk to the child if the child, on a few occasions, chews or sucks on something that was not designed for that purpose. The amount of chemical substances that the child may have ingested is likely so small that it should not pose any risk. If, on the other hand, the child has ingested a dangerous chemical product, such as lamp oil, lighter fluid or drain cleaner, you need to contact a medical professional immediately.

Toys are often safer for children than other objects

Toys must be safer for children to play with than other objects, as toys must not contain certain substances that are harmful to health that may be present in other objects. It is also good to know that toys bought after 2013 are safer for children to play with than older toys. This is because the rules for toys sold in the EU were sharply tightened in 2013. The new rules prohibit many dangerous chemical substances that were previously permitted.

Read more about toys here

Ventilation and dusting

Good ventilation keeps the air cleaner and removes the substances that are released into the air when, for example, plastic ages, when your TV or computer is used and gets hot or when you bring newly purchased textiles or new construction materials into your home. Chemicals also accumulate in dust. Therefore, it is good idea to keep dust away in the home, especially in rooms where small children crawl and play.

Recommendations for air and ventilation can be found on the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning’s website External link.

Wash new textiles before using them for the first time

Large amounts of chemicals are often used in the manufacture of textiles. These chemicals can affect health and contaminate the environment in the places where the textiles are manufactured. Some of the chemicals may also remain in the clothing and home textiles that you buy. Therefore, wash new textiles before use to avoid getting the excess chemicals directly on your body. Another way to avoid excess chemicals and protect the environment is to buy second hand. By the time textiles are purchased second hand, many chemicals have already been washed away and aired out of the textiles. In the manufacture of foam rubber, certain chemicals are used that can sometimes be left in finished foam rubber mattresses and pillows. If a new mattress has a strong odour, it is good to air it out until the odour has disappeared.

Read more about textiles here

Avoid articles treated with antibacterial agents

Some articles are treated with chemical agents to reduce, for example, bacterial growth and unpleasant odours, for example, to make a sports shirt odourless. The article can, for example, be marked with words such as “treated to prevent bad odour”, “for lasting freshness”, “anti-odour”, “hygienic protection”, “antimicrobial”. But the antibacterial agents usually disappear already after the first few washes and are released into the environment where they can cause harm. The agents are also suspected of contributing to the increasing antibiotic resistance in society. It is therefore advisable to avoid articles that are treated with antibacterial agents.

Read more about articles treated with antibacterial agents

Ecolabelling of articles

If a product has an ecolabel, it may mean that the article is free of residues of certain chemicals, but since there are different ecolabels that set requirements at different levels, it is good to find out what the label really means.

Companies have a responsibility

If you have questions about a particular article or chemical product, it is a good idea to contact the company that manufactured the product. The companies that manufacture, import or sell chemical products and articles are responsible for ensuring that these items do not harm human health and the environment.

Companies have a responsibility

Last published 22 September 2022