ISO 8124-6:2018—Phthalate Esters In Toys

A child and her mom playing with Barbie dolls that adhere to ISO 8124-6:2018 toy safety specifications.

A sticky chemical that oozes from the plastic used in very old dolls and some other toys may pose a health risk. Some dolls and other toys made in the 1950s with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which was used in the plastic molding process, are deteriorating rapidly and forming a sticky film on their plastic surfaces. Studies show that the chemical can mimic estrogen and disrupt development in young children. When children pick up and play with a sticky doll, they tend to poke their fingers into their mouths, transferring the chemical into their bodies. ISO 8124-6:2018—Safety Of Toys – Part 6: Certain Phthalate Esters In Toys And Childrens Products specifies a method to determine phthalate esters (often used as plasticizers in PVC products) in children’s toys.

Phthalate Esters In Consumer Products

Phthalate esters (PAEs) is a general term for esterified compounds of phthalic acid and alcohol. They are a large group of compounds used as liquid plasticizers and additives to improve various products’ mechanical extensibility, elasticity, and flexibility. PAEs are added based on the desired property, such as insulation, heat resistance, or weatherproofing.

They are found in a wide variety of consumer and food packaging products—mainly polyvinyl chloride products (clothes, packaging, toys, shower curtains, wires, cables, pigments, etc.,). Hence, there is widespread exposure of the human population to these chemicals. Exposure to PAEs raises concern due to potential chronic effects on the kidney and liver. In recent years, regulations on phthalate esters in toys have been investigated in various countries with the aim of protecting the health of infants and children as they may put the toys directly in their mouth or transfer the chemical into their bodies by playing with the toy.

What Is ISO 8124-6?

ISO 8124-6:2018 specifies a method for the determination of di-iso-butyl phthalate (DIBP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), benzylbutyl phthalate (BBP), bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), di-iso-nonylphthalate (DINP) and di-iso-decyl phthalate (DIDP) (in toys and children’s products. This standard is applicable to toys and children’s products which are made of plastics, textiles, coatings and liquids. It has been validated for polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastics, polyurethane (PU) plastics and some representative paint coatings (see Annex B). ISO 8124-6:2018 might also be applicable to other phthalate esters and other product materials provided that adequate validation is demonstrated.

Check out ISO 8124 – Toy Safety Standards to learn more about the parts in the ISO 8124 series.

Ancient Children’s Toys

The very first toys were likely to have been natural objects recruited from the ground—sticks, stones, pinecones, bones, clay, or twine. In Ancient Egypt, children played with dolls that had wings and movable limbs, which were made from stone, pottery, and word; in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, children played with dolls made of wax or terracotta, sticks, bows and arrows, and yo-yos. When Greek children, especially girls, came of age, it was customary for them to sacrifice the toys of their children to the gods, and on the eve of their weeding, young girls around fourteen would offer their dolls in a temple as a rite of passage into adulthood.

History of Children’s Toys

From sticks, marbles, spinning tops, kites, puzzles, teddy bears, Legos, Barbie dolls, and beanie babies, toys around the world have developed alongside technological and human advances. Here is a timeline of the invention of toys from 4000 BC to 1993:

  • 4000 BC: A Babylonian board game is played that was probably an ancestor of chess and checkers.
  • 3000 BC: First game resembling backgammon is played in Ancient Sumeria
  • 1000 BC: Kites appear in China.
  • 200: The first iron skates are used in Scandinavia
  • 600: An ancestor of chess begins to be played, evolving from an Indian game called Chaturanga
  • 969: Playing cards begin to be used in Asia.
  • 1400s: Modern chess pieces were finally standardized
  • 1759: Roller skates
  • 1767: Jigsaw puzzle
  • 1824: First rubber balloons (ancient people made balloons from animal intestines, and other parts)
  • 1843: The Mansion of Happiness (the first board game sold in the US)
  • 1860s: Bicycle
  • 1887: Speaking doll
  • 1901: Battery-powered train
  • 1902: Teddy Bears (named after President Theodore Roosevelt)
  • 1903: Crayola crayons
  • 1915: Raggedy Ann dolls
  • 1928: Mickey Mouse
  • 1929: The yo-yo is popularized in the US.
  • 1936: Monopoly
  • 1943: Slinky
  • 1949: Legos, Candy Land, Silly Putty
  • 1952: Mr. Potato Head
  • 1956: Play-doh
  • 1959: Barbie dolls
  • 1972: Odyssey (the first video game console)
  • 1977: Star Wars action figures
  • 1983: Nintendo Entertainment System
  • 1993: Beanie Babies (not a big success until 1996 when they became a collector’s item)

ISO 8124-6:2018—Safety Of Toys – Part 6: Certain Phthalate Esters In Toys And Children’s Products is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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