Toys containing lead & other elements

The ACCC is reviewing the mandatory safety standards for toys including toys containing lead and other elements and is seeking stakeholder feedback.

The review runs from 1 February 2017 to 31 March 2017. To contribute, please visit the review page on the ACCC consultation hub. (link is external)

A complete list of mandatory standards currently under review is available on the product safety consultation page.

The mandatory standard prescribes requirements for the levels of various chemicals that can be found in children's toys and finger paints and their testing.

About the mandatory standard

The mandatory standard applies to children's toys and finger paints that are:

  • supplied new
  • designed or clearly intended for use in play by children who are up to six years old.

Exclusions

This mandatory standard excludes:

  • sporting goods
  • camping goods
  • bicycles
  • home and playground equipment
  • trampolines
  • electronic game units
  • models powered by combustion or steam engines
  • fashion jewellery for children.

Hazardous elements

The elements known, at certain levels, to be most harmful to children playing with toys are:

  • antimony
  • arsenic
  • barium
  • cadmium
  • chromium
  • lead
  • mercury
  • selenium.

Hazards

Lead and other elements can cause harm when consumed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Young children often place toys in their mouth to explore them by sucking, mouthing and chewing on them, so they are especially vulnerable to dangerous elements in toys.

Children can absorb up to 60 per cent of the lead they are exposed to. If children swallow or chew on a toy containing lead, or if they inhale lead or absorb it through their skin, they can suffer significant and sometimes permanent health effects.

Physical health damage caused by exposure to hazardous elements can include:

  • hearing loss
  • slowed growth
  • central nervous system damage
  • organ damage.

Mental health damage caused by exposure to hazardous elements can include:

  • learning disorders
  • attention deficit disorders
  • behavioural problems.

Mandatory standard

Consumer Protection Notice No. 1 of 2009 sets out the mandatory requirements for toys and finger paints as prescribed.

The mandatory standard is based on certain sections of the voluntary Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 8124.3:2003 'Safety of toys, Part 3—Migration of certain elements'. Clause 4.4 covers 'Safety of toys Part 7 – Finger paints'. AS/NZS 8124.3:2003 is available from SAI Global.

Acceptable migration levels

The term 'lead migration' is used to refer to how much lead is drawn out of an object or substance and absorbed by a person. The amount is known as the 'migration level'. Similarly, there can be arsenic migration, mercury migration, chromium migration, etc.

The table below outlines the maximum acceptable levels of migratable lead and other elements in children's toys and finger paints.

Acceptable quantity per kilogram

  Antimony Arsenic Barium Cadmium Chromium Lead Mercury Selenium
Toys 60mg 25mg 1000mg 75mg 60mg 90mg 60mg 500mg
Finger paints 10mg 10mg 350mg 15mg 25mg 25mg 10mg 50mg

Testing methods

The mandatory standard provides specific guidelines on how to test for lead and other elements in children's toys and finger paints. To ensure products comply with the standard, suppliers should organise testing through specialist laboratories.

Does this apply to your business?

Under the Australian Consumer Law supply includes:

  • in relation to goods - (including re-supply) by way of sale, exchange, lease, hire or hire-purchase
  • in relation to services - provide, grant or confer.

This ban applies to anyone in the business of supplying this product, including:

  • manufacturers
  • importers
  • distributors
  • retailers
  • hirers.