EU Publishes 2014 RAPEX Report
On March 23, 2015, the European Commission (EC) announced its report on the EU's Rapid Alert System for non-food (RAPEX) for 2014. RAPEX, established by the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD), is the EU's system for exchanging information amongst and notifying member states, the EC, and the public about purportedly dangerous products and measures taken to address those dangers. RAPEX covers products posing a "serious risk," according to the EU's risk assessment methodology. Unlike the more diffuse safety and recall regulatory structure in the U.S., the European system captures hazardous consumer and professional products, motor vehicles, and cosmetics but excludes food, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.
For 2014, the EC reported the highest number of RAPEX notifications—2,435—a slight increase from 2013 (2,364). Those notifications resulted in actions including market withdrawal, recall, ban on sales, and rejection of imports.
The RAPEX website also received increased visitor traffic in 2014, which the EC attributes to the revamping of the site. Those changes included new search tools, making the site more user-friendly for consumers and businesses.
Key figures from the report include:
- Product Categories. The top two most notified product categories, accounting for more than half of all notifications in 2014, were toys (28 percent) and clothing, textiles, and fashion items (23 percent). Rounding out the top five product categories notified in 2014 were electrical appliances and equipment (9 percent), motor vehicles (8 percent), childcare articles and children's equipment (3 percent), and lighting products (3 percent).
- Hazards. The top five product risks in the notifications were: injuries (707 notifications); chemical (674 notifications); choking (313 notifications); electric shock (295 notifications); and strangulation (258 notifications). For chemical risks, the most common in 2014 were Chromium VI content in shoes and other leather articles; hazardous plastic softeners detected in toys and childcare articles; and heavy metals in jewelry.
- Country of Origin. China topped the list of country of origin for notified products, at 64 percent. In its report, the EC noted that this statistic is consistent with what was seen in 2013 and stressed that it continues to work with the Chinese government and industry to prevent dangerous products from entering the European market. European countries were the second highest point of origin for notified products at 14 percent. The United States was not named on the list.
- Notifying Member States. The EU member states most active in submitting RAPEX notifications in 2014 were Hungary (12 percent, 291 notifications); Germany (11 percent, 273 notifications); Spain (11 percent, 272 notifications); France (7 percent, 163 notifications); and Cyprus (6 percent, 151 notifications).
- Professional Products. There were 32 RAPEX notices for professional products in 2014, for chemical products (4 notifications); construction products (1 notification); electrical appliances (4 notifications); machinery (7 notifications); motor vehicles (14 notifications); and protective equipment (2 notifications). Germany submitted the most notifications for professional products (17 notifications), then Malta (3 notifications) and the UK (3 notifications).
- "Other" Notifications. Since 2013, the EC has included notice of risks relating to public interests other than health and safety on RAPEX. The main categories of those risks relate to electromagnetic disturbance, energy consumption, incorrect measurement, and security.
- In 2014, 62 of these "other" risks were notified on RAPEX.
- The categories of "other" risks were electromagnetic disturbance (1 notification); environmental (29 notifications); and microbiological (32 notifications).
- The most active member state reporting these risks was Sweden with 21 notifications followed by Spain with 7 notifications.
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