Toys containing lead & other elements

It is vital that toys are free of lead and other dangerous elements that may harm children.

About toys containing lead and other elements

Most toys are safe from dangerous levels of lead and other elements. Parents and carers should be aware, however, that some toys containing lead and certain other elements can seriously harm children.

Finger paints are popular with young children as they are easy to use, however some contain lead or other dangerous ingredients.

To minimise these risks there is a mandatory standard for children's toys containing unacceptable levels of lead and other elements.

Risks and injuries

Children can suffer similar serious health problems when exposed lead and other harmful elements. Children can absorb up to 60 per cent of the lead they’re exposed to. Toys are one of the most common sources of lead poisoning in children.

Young children often place toys in their mouth to explore them by sucking, mouthing and chewing on them. If children suck, chew on or swallow on a toy containing unsafe levels of  lead or other harmful elements,  they can suffer significant and sometimes permanent damage to their physical and mental health. In some cases, they can die.

As children apply finger paints with their hands, they are likely to absorb or ingest substantial amounts of paint. This is why finger paints can easily expose children to various harmful elements, including lead. If children consume finger paints containing lead, or if they inhale lead or absorb it through their skin, they can suffer significant and sometimes permanent damage to their physical and mental health. In some cases, they can die.

Harmful elements

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

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

Safe use

  • Watch children to ensure they do not put objects in their mouths.
  • Always supervise children when they play with finger paints to ensure they don’t swallow any of the paint.
  • Always thoroughly wash the paint off children and their clothes when they are finished playing with finger paints.
  • If children are using products that are applied to their skin such as make-up, face and body paints, or toys that are handled a lot and may leave residues (such as play dough and ‘goo'), ensure you wash them thoroughly from their skin immediately after use.
  • Get immediate medical attention if children become sick after playing with finger paints, as they may have ingested lead from the paint.
  • Call an ambulance if children become sick after placing objects in their mouths as they may have ingested lead.