Toy swords revisited: identification of additional odour-active contaminants

  • Christoph Wiedmer
  • Cristina Velasco-Schön
  • Andrea BuettnerEmail author
Short Communication


Odorants related to offensive odours in three children’s toy swords were identified and characterized by human sensory and chemical analyses. Samples were initially evaluated by a trained sensory panel. Panellists reported unpleasant smells in all samples that were dominated by mothball-like, phenolic and rubber-like notes and additionally almond-like and fatty notes. The odorants from the samples were then extracted using dichloromethane and subsequent solvent-assisted flavour evaporation distillation. Enriched distillates were then analysed by means of single and two-dimensional gas chromatography–mass spectrometry/olfactometry. An additional screening analysis for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons was also performed on all samples. The most predominant odorants identified in the samples were naphthalene, 1- and 2-methylnaphthalene and diverse dimethylnaphthalene isomers with gasoline-like smells. Acetophenone, with an almond-like, flowery smell, was also detected. Furthermore, the phenolic/leather-like smelling substances 3-ethylphenol, 3-hydroxyacetophenone, and 3-methoxyacetophenone were identified in one sample.


Aroma extract dilution analysis (AEDA) Gas chromatography olfactometry (GC-O) Products of daily use Plastic Toys 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Eva Ortner for proofreading the manuscript.


This study was funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Environment and Consumer Safety (StMUV).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no competing financial or nonfinancial interests to declare.

Ethical approval

The study was conducted in agreement with the Declaration of Helsinki. The study (registration number 180_16B) was approved by the Ethical Committee of the Medical Faculty, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Informed consent was obtained from all subjects.

Supplementary material

3_2019_1253_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (216 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 215 kb)


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Copyright information

© Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Chair of Aroma and Smell Research, Emil Fischer CenterFriedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, Department Sensory AnalyticsFreisingGermany
  3. 3.Bayerisches Landesamt für Gesundheit und Lebensmittelsicherheit, Sachgebiet Bedarfsgegenstände (Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority, Department of articles of daily use)ErlangenGermany

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