Most commonly detected defects in toys

Toys must meet the requirements set in the Toy Safety Act (1154/2011), the Government decree (1218/2011) issued under the Toy Safety Act and the relevant decree issued by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The requirements laid down in Act 287/1997 concerning chemical properties will apply until 20 July 2013.

 

 

Projectiles  

Projectiles used in projectile toys must be long enough and suction cups must remain attached to the projectiles in order to prevent risks such as airway obstruction (asphyxiation). The kinetic energy generated by projectiles must be in compliance with the requirements set in order to prevent health hazards such as eye injuries. In addition, depending of the type of toy and the kinetic energy of the projectiles, projectile toys must also bear the warnings ”Only use projectiles recommended or supplied by the manufacturer” and ”Do not aim at eyes or face” in Finnish and in Swedish. The permitted kinetic energy and the warnings required for projectiles toys are specified in the standard SFS-EN 71-1 Safety of toys. Mechanical and physical properties. Projectiles toys that do not meet the above-mentioned requirements do not comply with the requirements set in section 23 of the Toy Safety Act (1154/2011) or section 8 of Government decree 1218/2011 as their projectiles may cause a risk of eye injury or other physical injury.

 

Phthalates  

Phthalates are compounds that are used as plasticisers (softeners) in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics in particular. Some phthalates are classified as reprotoxic substances. New requirements concerning the use of phthalates entered into force at the beginning of 2007. The use of three phthalates classified as reprotoxic is now restricted, and their maximum concentration in toys and childcare articles is 0.1% by mass of the plasticised material. The same concentration limit also applies to three other phthalates in such toys and childcare articles that can be placed in the mouth by children. In practice the maximum concentration of 0.1% means that these phthalates cannot be used in product manufacture. In order to function as a plasticiser in PVC plastics, the phthalate’s concentration usually needs to be 20–40% of the mass of the plasticised material. Toys that contain the above-mentioned phthalates do not meet the requirements set for chemical properties in the Toy Safety Act. Restrictions on phthalates are laid down in entries 51 and 52 of Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation (1907/2006).

 

Lasers in toys  

Lasers are not toys. Products such as laser pointers must not be bought for or given to children.  Pointer lasers should not be bought from suspect tourist traders abroad or online. Lasers available for purchase may be a hundred times more powerful than the permitted level. Light-emitting diodes (LED) or incandescent light bulbs are usually used as the source of light in laser (fighting) games marketed as toys. If a toy contains a laser, it must fall under the safest class, Class 1. Maximum permissible exposure (MPE) levels have been set to protect against permanent eye damage. Exposure below the MPE can result in temporary vision disturbances such as dazzling, flash blindness and after image formation. Even Class 1 lasers may temporarily disturb vision.

 

Therefore the most important safety requirement is that laser beams must never be pointed at oneself or others. Those using laser devices must always follow the installation and user instructions and any other safety regulations issued for them. Toys containing lasers that are too powerful or have insufficient labelling do not meet the requirements set in section 26 of the Toy Safety Act or section 26 of the Government decree issued under the Act. To read more about lasers visit the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority Finland (STUK) website at www.stuk.fi.

 

Toy cords and drawstrings  

According to the standard SFS-EN 14682 on the safety of children’s clothing, dressing-up outfits and other garments, children’s garments cannot be designed to feature drawstrings or cords which are tied at the back of the garment. Drawstrings or cords are not allowed in the hood or neck area of garments for younger children (aged up to 6 years and 11 months, including all children up to and including a height of 134 cm) either. The purpose of these requirements is to prevent the risk of strangulation or getting caught in various structures or modes of transport, etc. Long cords, drawstrings or loops (with perimeters exceeding 380 mm) may not be found in toys intended for children under 36 months either. Garments and toys for children under 36 months of age that have non-compliant cords or drawstrings do not meet the requirements set in section 23 of the Toy Safety Act or section 3 of the Government decree issued under the Act under which toys, their parts or packaging may not present a risk of choking, suffocation or strangulation.

 

Lead and cadmium  

Lead and cadmium are toxic heavy metals. Young children's developing organ systems are particularly vulnerable to their adverse effects. From toys heavy metals can make their way to the body primarily via the mouth. The standard SFS-EN 71 3 Safety of toys. Migration of certain elements specifies the limits for not only lead and cadmium but also for certain other toxic elements. Toys that contain lead or cadmium (or certain other toxic elements) do not meet the requirements set for chemical properties in section 25 of the Toy Safety Act.

 

Magnets 

Magnets included in or detachable from toys must not have a flux index below 50 kG2 mm2 or they must be so large that they do not fit entirely within the small parts cylinder and therefore cannot be swallowed by children because of their large size. If swallowed, a strong magnet may result in problems including intestinal blockage or rupture. The requirements set for toy magnets are specified in the standard SFS-EN 71-1 Safety of toys. Mechanical and physical properties. Toys containing magnets that are too strong and that fit within the small parts cylinder do not meet the requirements set in section 23 of the Toy Safety Act.

 

Microbiological quality  

So far there are no standards providing detailed requirements concerning the microbiological quality of liquids contained in toys. Requirements for microbiological quality are currently being developed. However, under section 27 of the Toy Safety Act, toys must be so clean and hygienic that they do not pose risks such as a risk of disease. 

 

Small parts  

Small detachable parts cause a risk of choking for very young children (under the age of 36 months). Toys intended for them may not have detachable small parts or contain small parts. Toys intended for children under the age of 36 months must therefore be particularly strong and durable and must withstand treatment such as throwing or biting without breaking. Small parts are defined using the ’small part cylinder’, the measurements of which are specified in the SFS-EN 71-1 standard. The detachability of small parts is tested using various torque, tension, seam strength, drop, impact and compression tests. Toys intended for children under 36 months that have detachable small parts or contain small parts do not meet the requirements set in section 23 of the Toy Safety Act according to which toys, their parts or packaging may not pose a risk of choking, suffocation or strangulation.

 

The size and shape of certain toys  

The purpose of the requirements set is to prevent risks caused if children, who are too young to sit up unaided, place them in their mouth/pharynx.

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