In children's products there is a need to minimize material odors and other negative impressions, in particular against the background of ever more prevalent physiological conditions in children (allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), stressor effects, etc.). The relevant substances and their effects on people have up until now not been researched. The objective of this project is therefore to identify the substances which cause off-odors in children's products.
In order to acquire a better understanding of this issue, children's products with off-odors were first of all subjected to sensory evaluation. To date more than 50 products have been evaluated in this way. Instrumental analytical techniques have then been employed (gas chromatography - olfactometry, mass spectrometry, etc.) to identify the chemicals responsible for the off-odors.
Our studies show that a large number of compounds in plastic products having diverse chemical structures can lead to off-odors and/or irritation. Some of these were identified for the first time in this project. We have also found that some of these substances are physiologically harmful. Some toys with strong odors also contained harmful, non-odorous substances.
Correlation of the sensory evaluation with the chemical analyses has allowed marker substances to be identified which can, for example, be used for future quality monitoring. The studies also form the basis for determining the sources of contamination and for identifying reaction pathways leading to the formation of undesirable substances. Follow-up studies will evaluate the physiological and toxicological properties of these substances. Particular focus will be put on the exposure to these substances of consumers, people involved in the manufacturing process, and people involved in sales and retail.