Isn't a pen harmful?

Children like to nibble on colored pencils, smudge themselves with ink or decorate their hands with felt painters. This can have unpleasant consequences, warentest warns: their testers examined a total of 35 painting sets, including colored pencils, fiber pens and ink cartridges. Many of them contained harmful substances in alarming quantities. Twelve tested pens received the verdict "unsatisfactory", according to the current issue of the magazine test.

Of the 17 sets of crayons examined, six contained critical amounts of chemicals classified as suspect or carcinogenic. The testers based their assessment on the standards of the European Toy Directive and the GS mark for tested safety.

They found excessive amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in five colored pencil brands. These are mixtures of substances, some of which can cause cancer, alter the genetic make-up or endanger reproduction. In addition, the testers detected aromatic amines in three sets of colored pencils, which come from so-called azo dyes, some of which are carcinogenic or suspect. Although the harmful amines found are firmly bound in azo pigments and therefore not soluble in water, write the examiners, enzymes or bacteria could theoretically split them off.

Among the burdened pens are inexpensive ones from Müller, Rossmann, Idena and Tedi, as well as expensive ones from Staedtler and Lamy. Eleven sets with "good" (Faber-Castell, Stabilo, Bic Kids, Mäc Geiz, Depesche) or "satisfactory" (Eberhard Faber, Herlitz, Stylex, Lyra, Pelikan, Maped) show that it can be done without PAH and azo dyes ) were rated.

The most expensive pen did the worst

Fiber-tip pens and ink cartridges hardly did any better in the laboratory. Critical preservatives that can cause allergies were found in two out of twelve fiber-tip pens examined (Bic Kids, Idena). These substances are added to liquid paints to prevent mold or bacterial cultures from forming. Among the blue ink cartridges, the testers found only one out of six harmless, that of the Schneider brand. Cartridges from Herlitz, Kreuzer, Lamy, Online and Pelikan were each rated "poor".

Concerned parents should not drive themselves crazy, however, but make sure that their children clean their hands carefully after painting and wash the paint off their skin quickly, recommends test. Since the pollutants of the colored pencils were only found in the paint or the colored leads, the testers recommend unpainted pencils made of natural wood. The test shows one thing very clearly: the price of the stationery is irrelevant. The most expensive pen in the entire test (Lamy) even did the worst.