The global toy market saw $80.8 billion in revenue over the past decade. This industry, while dominated by a few major players, is comprised of numerous companies seeking to produce items oriented towards children. This presents a duel-fold need—manufacturers should be able to assure the safety of their products and have this information easily conveyed to parents or purchasers.
In the United States, ASTM F963 offers guidance for this. Internationally, the ISO 8124 series of international standards developed by the ISO technical committee for the safety of toys (ISO/TC 181) are looked to for assurance. This series is broken up into numerous parts:
ISO 8124-1:2018 – Safety of toys – Part 1: Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties
This standard applies to all toys, or “any product or material designed or clearly intended for use in play by children under 14 years of age,” with some exceptions. It specifies acceptable criteria for the structural characteristics of toys, covering numerous components of toy products with guidelines that vary according to the intended age group.
You can read more about this document in our post on changes to ISO 8124-1:2018.
While there is little accident data concerning the hazards associated with the flammability of toys, the potential for a child’s toy to catch flame is surely a factor that should be minimized. This international document covers this, specifying the categories of flammable materials that are prohibited in all toys and details guidelines concerning flammability of certain toys when they are subjected to a minor source of ignition. It also describes test methods for determining flammability.
This document specifies maximum acceptable levels and methods of sampling and extraction prior to analysis for the migration of antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and selenium from toy materials and from parts of toys. Each of these is thoroughly known to inflict ill effects on humans. For example, exposure to antimony can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs, and, over time, lung diseases and stomach ulcers.
This standard has an amendment, ISO 8124-3:2010/Amd1:2014, which makes alterations to the selection of test portions.
ISO 8124-4:2014 – Safety of toys – Part 4: Swings, slides and similar activity toys for indoor and outdoor family domestic use
The focus of this standard, which is based largely on ASTM F1148 and European Union standards, is home playground equipment, or “activity toys for domestic family use intended for children under 14 years to play on or in.” This includes swings, slides, seesaws, carousels, rocking toys, climbing frames, fully enclosed toddler swing seats, and other products intended to bear the mass of one or more children.
It specifically excludes fitness and sporting equipment, equipment intended for public use (e.g. in schools, day care centers, and public playgrounds), and juvenile care products.
This standard has an amendment, ISO 8124-4:2014/Amd1:2017, which updates the key to Figure 21.
ISO 8124-5:2015 – Safety of toys – Part 5: Determination of total concentration of certain elements in toys
This document specifies sampling and digestion prior to analysis of the total concentration of the same elements as ISO 8124-3:2010—antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and selenium—from toy materials and from parts of toys. Other hazardous elements can be determined by the standard’s method if adequate analytical performance is demonstrated.
Manufacturers are encouraged to apply these test methods and the limits from ISO 8124-3:2010 to raw materials used in the manufacture of toys to give increased certainty of conformity.
This document offers a method for determining the content of dinbutyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), di-iso-nonyl phthalate (DINP), and diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) in toys and children’s products. It is applicable to toys and children’s products made of plastics, textiles, coatings, etc.
This part of the ISO 8124 series is intended to reduce the risks to children from finger paint, with a basis in the foreseeable use of finger paint and taking into account the behavior of children. It does this by specifying guidelines for the materials and substances used in finger paints, which address certain harmful impurities. It does not, however, apply to paints intended to be applied to the face or body.
This technical report (not a standard) offers guidelines for determining the lowest age at which children start playing with toys in specific toy subcategories. Therefore, it is primarily directed at manufacturers and agencies that evaluate the compliance of toys with safety standards. However, the technical report can also be used as a reference for determining the appropriateness of toys by earliest age, and it may be useful for organizations involved with child play, pediatric institutions, and consumers.
The international standards listed above already have been published in the ISO 8124 toy safety series, but additional documents are forthcoming. Standards in this series currently in development include:
ISO 8124-9 – Safety of toys — Part 9: Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties — Comparison of ISO 8124-1, EN 71-1, and ASTM F963
ISO 8124-10 – Safety of toys — Part 10: Experimental sets for chemistry and related activities
ISO 8124-11 – Safety of toys — Part 11: Chemical toys (sets) other than experimental sets
Please note that these standards do not cover electrical aspects, which are the focus of documents published by IEC.