Why is pen ink considered toxic

Pens and paints: toxic to children?

Street chalks

According to the BfR, ordinary street chalk is non-toxic for children. However, the institute warns that chalk can get into the airways of young children. Parents should therefore not leave their child to play unattended and should call an ambulance if they have difficulty breathing after swallowing chalk. And be careful: according to the BfR, professional artist's chalks can contain toxic pigments. If parents are unsure whether their child has eaten something poisonous, they should contact the poison control center. "If you name the product, we can usually provide you with information quickly," says Dr. Rachel Bortnick, formerly a consultant at the Poisoning Information Center of the Freiburg University Hospital. In the event of severe complaints, parents must call the emergency doctor immediately.

Pencils and colored pencils

Pencils and colored pencils also have to meet legal requirements in Germany. "These days, pencils no longer contain lead," says Bortnick. "Even the lacquer coating on such pens is generally harmless if children suck on it." If you want to be on the safe side, buy unpainted colored pencils with wooden cladding. In both cases, children should not nibble on it if possible: there is a risk of splinters and injuries.

The expert warns explicitly about the coloring of one type of pen: "Copy pens - especially blue ones - sometimes contain methyl violet, which can irritate the mucous membranes." They didn't belong in children's hands.

Felt-tip pens

Felt pens conjure up bright colors on paper. And look interesting: How does the paint flow out of the felt tip? "If a child briefly puts the felt-tip pen in their mouth, it is usually not a problem," says Bortnick. If it sucks on it for a long time or bites it open, parents should contact the poison control center as a precaution and name the product. There are precise regulations in Germany for the ingredients of felt-tip pens. Nevertheless, the following applies: felt-tip pens are not intended for eating. Pen caps don't belong in their mouths either, as children could choke on them.

Wax crayons

Wax crayons and crayons contain different substances depending on the product. "If the product was bought in Germany, it is not dangerous for a child to put it in their mouth," explains Bortnick. However, if the little one eats oily chalk, the parents should then watch it for a while. "It could react with gastrointestinal complaints," says Bortnick. "If he does not want to eat, it could be that something got stuck in the intestine or esophagus. If the child starts coughing, it must be excluded that anything has got into the airways." In these cases, parents should take him to the doctor.

What to do in an emergency

How should parents react when their child has consumed paint? "The important thing is: never induce vomiting," says Dr. Rachel Bortnick. "That was recommended in the past, but now we know that it is often dangerous." Instead, the following applies: water-miscible and water-soluble colors are usually unproblematic. The child should then drink plenty of water unless the Poison Control Center advises otherwise. "That protects against clumping," explains Bortnick. In contrast, solvent-based paints in particular can be harmful or toxic. Then call the poison control center with the packaging or the pen in hand or call the emergency doctor immediately. Tip: You can brush up on your knowledge in our First Aid for Children series.