Unsafe goods lead in childrens toys

Below is an outline of guidance available on lead in children's toys.

Unsafe Goods (Lead in children's toys) Notice 2009

The New Zealand Gazette No. 39, 26 March 2009, published the Unsafe Goods (Lead in children's toys) Notice 2009. The notice is made in accordance with section 31(3) of the Fair Trading Act 1986.

Children's toys which contain lead in their accessible parts at a migration level greater than 90 mg/kg of toy material are declared to be unsafe goods and are prohibited from supply indefinitely.

Migration level means the value calculated after testing in accordance with the procedures and result interpretation provisions of the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS ISO 8124.3:2003 entitled 'Safety of toys, Part 3: Migration of certain elements'.

Explanatory note: This notice declares children's toys which contain lead in their accessible parts at a migration level of greater than 90 mg/kg of toy material to be unsafe goods and prohibits the supply of the goods indefinitely under section 31 of the Fair Trading Act 1986.

Safety of toys – Standard

AS/NZS ISO 8124.3:2003, Safety of toys – Migration of certain elements, provides toxicity requirements for toys and toxicity labelling requirements for certain materials used in toys. It specifies maximum acceptable levels and methods of sampling and extraction prior to analysis for the migration of the elements antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and selenium from toy materials and from parts of toys, except materials not accessible.

Also see:

Consumer article – lead in toys

Reproduced from Consumer – news section of website, www.consumer.org.nz, 4 November 2008

Members have contacted us recently concerned that toys they had bought may contain lead.

Toys sold in New Zealand must comply with a product safety standard that requires they have no small parts that may come off and harm a child.

As well, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has issued an unsafe goods notice for lead in children's toys. This states that toys should not contain lead in their accessible parts at a level higher than that specified by an Australian/New Zealand standard. The Commerce Commission is responsible for enforcing the notice and can investigate and prosecute a supplier of an unsafe toy.

If you're worried that a toy you've bought may have high levels of lead, ask the supplier (retailer or importer) for evidence that the toy complies with the Standard AS/NZS ISO 8124.3, or the equivalent European Standard EN 71.3.

You can go to the Commerce Commission if the supplier can't answer your concerns. Make sure you keep a record of where you bought the toy, or a sales docket.

Consumer article – lead paint poisoning

Reproduced from Consumer – news section of website, www.consumer.org.nz, 15 August 2007

Mattel recently announced a voluntary recall of Fisher-Price character toys due to the level of lead in the paint.

If you are worried that the paint on Mattel toys may have poisoned your children, relax a little. Lead is a cumulative poison rather than an immediate acting poison, so urgent action is unlikely to be needed.

Lead poisoning from paint on toys is relatively uncommon. Children who are most at risk of lead poisoning live in houses more than 60 years old that have been recently repainted – the risk is from the dust generated during painting preparation, and from lead in the soil around the house.

Our advice

Check to see if the child has been chewing the paint on the toy.

If there is no obvious chewing of the paint, there should be no reason to worry about your children's health. But make sure you return the toy to Mattel for a refund (contact details below).

If a significant amount of the paint has been chewed, take the child or children to the doctor and ask for a blood test.

If you happen to be bringing up a family in a house more than 60 years old that has been repainted in the last few years, a check on your children's blood-lead levels is a very sensible precaution.

Lead-poisoning facts:

  • Children are more susceptible to lead poisoning.
  • Less than 10 micrograms of lead per decilitre of blood is generally regarded as not harmful.
  • Most adults have 6-7 micrograms/dl of lead in their blood, accumulated from the environment and from minute traces of lead in food.
  • Up to 15 micrograms/dl there are usually no obvious symptoms.
  • From 15 to 25 micrograms/dl symptoms are not very specific, but may include lack of appetite, sleepiness or aggression.
  • Symptoms become more pronounced as levels rise, and above 50 micrograms/dl, fits or brain damage are increasingly likely. But – even at high levels some show few or no unusual symptoms.

Published in consumer and occupational safety.