The Federal Environmental Inspection carries out checks on the placing on the market of chemical substances.

European legislation on chemical products REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of CHemical substances) stipulates that each European Union Member State must organise checks on the chemical substances available on its market.

The aim of the checks is to guarantee that the chemical substances placed on the market, whether on their own or part of a mixture, have been registered in the ECHA database and that their hazardousness has been assessed correctly.

During checks, the focus is placed particularly on the verification of:

  • the registration of substances;
  • documents such as Safety Data Sheets - SDS;
  • labelling that conforms to the CLP European regulation on the classification, labelling  and packaging of substances and mixtures.
  • compliance with the restrictions imposed on substances themselves or contained in a mixture or an article;

Certain chemical substances are deemed to be dangerous, such as those subject to PIC procedures, and Perrmanent Organic Pollutants which are also subject to checks carried out by the Federal Environmental Inspection.

Example of multi-year REACH campaign: control of the volume of cadmium, lead and nickel in costume jewellery

In 2015 and 2016, several violations were recorded in stores selling costume jewellery. 

That is why, the FPS Finance's Customs and Excise increased checks on entry into the territory and the Environmental Inspection increased checks in stores, mainly targeting jewellery imported from China.

During these checks, cadmium, lead and nickel levels are measured on site. In the event of doubt, samples are taken for laboratory analysis.

High levels of cadmium and lead may constitute a risk for health and the environment. Nickel may cause an allergy that results in contact dermatitis.

In 2017, more than 500 kg of non-conform jewellery was forbidden from entering the EU market.

In 2018, checks were again carried out on entry into the territory, but also in high street store brands. 380 kilos of jewellery were forbidden from entering the market (out of 4.900 kilos checked). In stores, out of 300 items of jewellery checked in 27 firms, 3 violations were recorded. In most cases, the jewellery was forbidden from being sold because of an excessively high level of cadmium.

In 2019, 26 cases of imports, mainly from China, were reviewed. Of these 26 cases of imports, only 7 were destined for the Belgian market; the others were for France, the Netherlands and Italy. The inspectors spent two weeks carrying out intensive customs checks, opening more than 500 boxes and testing 366 different pieces of jewellery. 7 of the 26 consignments of imported jewellery inspected constituted an infringement of the law. These 7 lots of imported jewellery concerned shipments to France and Italy.

In most cases, the sale of jewellery is prohibited because of excessive cadmium content. They are either destroyed or re-exported at the expense of the European companies that import these products into the EU. It must be pointed out that the private individual who imports such articles is considered to be the importer and must therefore expect to bear the consequences.  

Checks on imported costume jewellery in Belgium from 2015 to 2020

Years Imports checked Imports with violation Number of KG "verified" Number of items of jewellery in violation
2015 44 11 (= 25%) - +/- 400 KG
2016 30 4 (= 13%) 9 000 +/- 500  kg (= 5,6%)
2017 14 5 (= 36%) 10 500 587 (= 5,6%)
2018 4 2 (= 50%) +/- 4 900 +/- 380 kg (= 7,8%)
2019 26 7 (= 27%) 27 330 +/- 1000 kg (= 3,7%)
2020 6 1 (= 16%) 6317 2780 kg (= 44%)

Guidance for protecting yourself after a purchase  

Everyone buys costume jewellery. Simple precautions reduce the risks for health.

Do you like wearing costume jewellery? Why not, but you must avoid:

  • putting it in your mouth;
  • wearing the same item of jewellery all the time;
  • these items of jewellery from coming into contact with irritated or injured skin.

Do you often buy online? Beware …

  • On the Internet, the origin or the composition of jewellery are rarely indicated.
  • Be even more cautious with jewellery sold at very low prices.

Do you buy in stores? 

  • Be sure to seek information about the composition and origin of the jewellery.
  • Be even more cautious when jewellery sold at very low prices is imported from countries outside the European Union. The legislation there is rarely as strict as in Europe.

At home, watch out for young children and teenagers

Keep your jewellery out of the reach of children.

  • Do not leave your jewellery on a low cupboard or bedside table. Young children put shiny objects in their mouths very quickly and may swallow very small parts (beads, pendants, etc.).
  • Use a jewellery box with a key.
  • Avoid offering costume jewellery with metal parts to children
  • Teenagers tend to wear the same jewellery all the time. Inform them of the risks and provide them with this health guidance.

Do you want to dispose of an item of costume jewellery? Do not throw it in the waste bin!

Contact your municipality or the organisation that manages waste in your region and verify the collection method planned for this type of waste.