Black-box tests have shown that mercury in the paint of cars and other materials can be as high as 100 parts per billion, well above the maximum allowed by European law, an environmental group said on Monday.
The European Union’s Environment Agency said on Friday that it had tested paint samples of some 200 cars and 40 other materials from the European Union and Norway.
The agency said it had found the levels of toxic metals, including lead and cadmium, were above limits for residential use, and also exceeded safety limits in cars.
The tests were carried out by a third party company called ASTM International.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it was not involved in the tests.
The EPA said it planned to conduct a new investigation of the results.
The findings come after the European Commission said last month that it would ban the use of all paints made in Europe that contain more than 50 parts per million of mercury.
In June, a new European law came into force banning mercury-containing paint from European car markets, but the ban does not cover the EU-built paints produced in other countries.
The EU-based paint manufacturer BASF said on Thursday it had halted production of a new line of cars with mercury levels of up to 300 parts per trillion.
The BASF decision came days after BASF and other major carmakers said they were suspending the sale of cars manufactured with a wide range of paints made from lead and mercury.
The industry has blamed the move on concerns that a global push to phase out lead-based paints, as well as the need to limit the use and production of mercury-based plastics.