News Release

Small, but different from the grown-ups: Recognising risks, protecting children

At the Green Week in Berlin, the BfR is focussing on health risks for children

Business Announcement

BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

From swallowed button cell batteries to caffeine in energy drinks - what health risks are children and young people exposed to in everyday life? On the one hand, they are more susceptible to potentially harmful substances, and on the other, substances can affect children differently than adults. "Children are not small adults. They need special protection," says Professor Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). "We must take this into account when assessing health risks so that everyday life becomes even safer for children."

From 19 to 28 January 2024, visitors to the BfR stand in Hall 3.2 at the Green Week in Berlin will be able to playfully learn about children’s special characteristics and risk factors and how these can be reduced. Visitors are invited to participate in various games, such as an XXL wobble tower and the High Striker fairground attraction, as well as interactive information towers. The culinary highlight is the live cookery show with TV chef Tino Schmidt, who, together with experts from the BfR, will provide information on the topic of "Nutrition for children and young people".

Children behave differently to adults. This is especially true for small children, who often put things in their mouths. They may thus ingest more substances, such as toxic cleaning products or plants, or swallow coins and batteries. For older children and adolescents, energy drinks, tattoos, or e-cigarettes can harbour health risks. This must be taken into account when assessing risks and setting guideline values, as substances can have different effects on children and adults.

At the Green Week, the BfR makes tangible the special risk factors of children. These risk factors include different behaviour, greater exposure, and greater susceptibility compared to adults. The stand’s furniture and exhibits can’t be missed, with huge building blocks and twisted proportions allowing adults to slip into a smaller role, so they feel like children. The Hot Wire skill game, for example, illustrates that children are more vulnerable than adults to various substances, which can have stronger effects on children’s bodies or organs. Developing tissue often reacts more sensitively to substances. Moreover, there are critical periods of development, during which disturbances can lead to permanent changes in some functions of the body.

The High Striker fairground attraction is not about the person’s size or strength, but about the impulse. It illustrates the risk factor of exposure: children can have a greater exposure to certain substances. The younger children are, the greater their energy requirements, mainly because they are growing and have a greater urge to move around. To meet this energy requirement, children must eat more food than adults, relative to their body weight.

The touchscreens, videos, and comics at the BfR stand also provide valuable information about poisoning, household products, and chemicals, and they demonstrate how children's health risks can be reduced in everyday life.

Further information about the BfR at the Green Week:

The BfR stand is located in Hall 3.2 ErlebnisBauernhof, No. 303.

The Green Week will take place from 19-28 January 2024 in Berlin.

Further information on the BfR website:

Recognising risks, protecting children

Kitchen hygiene information material

Health assessment of toys

Protecting children from poisoning

BfR app: Poisoning accidents involving children 


About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States (‘Laender’) on questions of food, chemicals and product safety. The BfR conducts independent research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

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