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Kids’ toys - what do you know about heavy metals?


On my 6th birthday, I woke to an assortment of gifts from my family. Everything was fine, but something was missing. I had distinctly asked for a particular spaceship toy that came with many smaller spaceships inside it. The mothership was red and pointy with multiple engines. This thing was actually the only toy I wanted, and it wasn’t in any of the boxes I opened. However, my Grandmother was on her way round with a special gift, and as soon as I saw the wrapping paper, my mind had already calculated that this was the right size and shape for the spaceship. Good ol’ granny.

Things have moved on significantly since the days of spaceships with lots of tiny pieces and only a small “For ages 4 - 9” just about visible in the bottom corner or the packaging. But that doesn’t mean things can’t still go wrong - and heavy metals used in kids’ toys may be more common than you think (contact a Spartanburg lawyer dealing with personal injury if you have been affected). There are multiple types of heavy metal injuries linked to kids’ toys and kids’ jewellery. Metals such as lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and bromine come with different maximum recommended levels in terms of parts per million in the blood. 

Should you avoid toys containing heavy metals?

In the United States, The Consumer Safety Act (CPSA) was passed in 1972, giving an independent agency of the US Federal Government certain powers regarding product recalls where there is reason to believe that the product poses a risk to health. Toys that contain heavy metals may fall into this bracket where there is a danger of causing illness - this danger is present where the ingestion of heavy metals threatens to push the ‘parts per million’ count above safe limits. Obviously, use your own judgement, but where toys are listed as containing heavy metals, you may wish to reconsider letting your child play with them.   

Does the retailer know that the toys contain heavy metals?

The answer is unclear. While some retailers may pay attention to chemical certifications (or lack thereof), other retailers may not be as vigilant, especially when importing toys from foreign countries. What this means is that just because you see a child’s toy being offered either online or in store by a particular vendor, there may not be any guarantee that the toy has been scrutinised for any details pertaining to the types of metals used in their construction. 

One study suggests that as few as 10% of parents choose not to trust the retailer outright and will look for labelling on toys to ensure their child is not exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals, while the highest percentage of parents admitted that the main determining factor in choosing a toy was not safety, but colour. 

If you are unsure about whether a particular toy contains heavy metals, always approach the retailer for answers. If the retailer cannot provide you with answers, and if you still have concerns, perhaps you will need to select an alternative toy. 

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