December 2020

Standards for the holiday season: toy safety

Christmas is right around the corner, and with it the promise of toys for children under the tree. Like any consumer product, toys need to be safe and comply with the toy regulation and corresponding toy safety standards. 

The toy regulation includes many essential safety requirements addressing certain hazards that the toy’s manufacturers must assess. For instance, imagine that a child receives a dressing-up costume including a long flowing wig during Christmas and is near a fire source. There is the possibility that the hair could be ignited by the flames, so it is important the hair does not ignite but, if it does, it only burns slowly. In this case, the toy standard EN 71-2 ‘Flammability’ describes the requirements and test methods for dressing-up wigs to protect the child. 

The National Measurement Laboratory (NML), hosted by LGC, has a role in advising policymakers on toy safety: we advise on chemical requirements and testing, and contribute to the development of toy standards.

The toy standard EN71-3:2019 ‘Migration of certain elements’ in particular is widely used by the toy industry to determine the migration of toxic elements such as lead or cadmium from toy materials into a child’s bloodstream. . However, the procedures to test the migration of the elements are very complex, which resulted in questions around the reproducibility of the method, especially when the number of elements requiring testing has recently increased from eight to nineteen elements’

The European standards organisation (European Committee for Standardisation, CEN) recognised this problem and instituted an inter-laboratory trial among testing laboratories to validate the methods in EN 71-3 using reference materials. The reference materials for this trial were produced and characterised by the NML and consisted of three different types of toy materials with known migration values for the nineteen elements. Using these reference materials, the laboratories were able to measure the migration levels of the metals in the toy materials, confirming the reproducibility of the method and that EN 71-3 is fit for purpose.

Within the NML we continue to contribute to the development of toy standards and the use of reference materials to ensure toy security, protecting children and hence contributing to a safer Christmas.

LGC also manages proficiency testing schemes, which allow businesses to ensure their processes are accurate and up to scratch. To learn about the LGC AXIO TOYTEST proficiency testing scheme and respective products, please visit LGC Standards website