Walk through any toy store and you will quickly become overwhelmed by the wide selection of children’s toys available. Parents, grandparents, and other caretakers generally assume that the toys on store shelves have been thoroughly tested and approved for the ages listed on the packaging. Unfortunately, a large number of children are injured and even killed by unsafe toys each year. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that approximately 265,000 children suffered toy-related injuries in 2012 alone. Numbers like that can make a parent feel helpless, which is why it’s important to take extra precautions when purchasing toys.
Government Safety Standards For Toys
The CPSC is a government agency that oversees safety standards for a variety of consumer products, including power tools, household chemicals, cribs, and toys. Under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the CPSC created a comprehensive set of new testing requirements and federal regulations for children’s products. As of 2008, all toys created for children age 12 and under must go through rigorous third-party testing and receive a Children’s Product Certificate before they can be marketed and sold to the public. This applies to all toys sold in the United States regardless of their country of manufacture.
Additionally, toys manufactured after June 12, 2012 must comply with the toy testing standard known as ASTM F963-11, which contains a lengthy set of requirements for testing specific toys. Previously, ASTM was known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, however, the organization is now known as ASTM International.
Safety Hazards To Watch For
Despite these strict standards, dangerous and defective toys still make it to store shelves each year. Parents can protect their children by inspecting toys before allowing their children to play with them. According to the CPSC, toys should comply with the following requirements:
- Toys should not contain any parts smaller than 2.25 inches long by 1.25 inches wide (about the size of a three-year-old child’s throat)
- Toys intended for children ages three to six that contain small parts must contain a small parts warning label
- Total lead content cannot be more than 100 parts per million (ppm)
Although it can be difficult to determine a toy’s size or lead content with the naked eye, parents can reduce the risk of injury by closely examining toys at home. For example, the CPSC recommends the use of a small parts object choking tester, which can be purchased online or in stores for under $3. The CPSC also suggests avoiding any toys or small parts smaller than a quarter. Parents should also discard toys that contain chipped or peeling paint as a precaution against lead content. Recently, several toys manufactured in China have been recalled due to high lead content.