Lead in Children's Toys and New Safety Guidelines
The Canadian Government has issued new regulations to limit the use of lead in children's toys and products and for products that will have mouth contact.
Amendments have been made to the Hazardous Products Act to further restrict the amount of lead in many consumer products, including children’s toys. On November 29, 2010, Health Canada issued a bulletin informing the public that these regulations will be implemented immediately to protect consumers, and especially children, from lead exposure.
New Guidelines for Controlling Lead in Consumers’ and Children’s Products
In the past, Health Canada did not have any authority in controlling the advertisement, import or sale of consumer products that were unregulated. The new regulations standards, under the Lead Risk Reduction Strategy for Consumer Products, will allow Health Canada to have more control in lowering risk of exposure to lead for children.
While the regulation focuses on many consumer products, the greatest focus is on minimizing lead exposure in children’s products, since children are more likely to be exposed to lead from mouthing objects.
The new regulations aim to reduce the amount of lead significantly for products intended to come in contact with the mouth. This includes any products intended for use by children under three years of age as well as:
• Kitchen utensils,
• Baby bottle nipples,
• Drinking spouts,
• Sports mouthpieces and
• Mouthpieces of musical aids.
It will also see a reduction in lead for any surface coatings of children’s toys and furniture and any surface coatings sold to the general public for use in and around the home.
Lead Exposure in Children’s Products and Toys
Lead is inexpensive and has many uses in manufacturing. It is also highly toxic and can enter your body through the digestive system or via the lungs, indicates Health Canada. Lead accumulates in the body and can damage almost all of the body’s systems. Children’s immune systems are not as efficient in eliminating these toxins from their body, and thus the lead will have a more serious effect on them that it would on adults. Even low levels of lead exposure can lead to intellectual and behavioral deficits in children.
Lead is also sweet in taste and encourages children to continue mouthing objects that contain it. It used to be used in paints, gasoline and food cans, but is no longer found in those in Canada. It is still found in some consumer products and in children’s clothing.
Products that Contain Lead
While lead has been allowed in limited amounts for some products, concern still exists that the allowable levels are still too high to be considered safe; especially for children.
The following products are allowed to contain limited amounts of lead:
• Consumer paints, enamels and surface coating materials
• Paints, enamels and decorative coatings on pencils, artist’s brushes, toys, children’s furniture and other products for children
• Tea kettles
• Glazes, coatings or decorations on ceramics and glassware used to store, prepare or serve food and beverages
• Children’s jewellery.
As a consumer, you can research toys and children's products to determine which may have lead in them. Choose products made in Canada and avoid products made in Eastern countries, as they often contain unacceptable amounts of lead which sneak under the radar of the Canadian government.
Health Canada. “ Harper Government Takes Action to Protect Children from Lead Exposure” (accessed November 29, 2010)
Health Canada. “ Summary of the Lead Risk Reduction Strategy for Consumer Products. ” (accessed November 29, 2010)
Health Canada. “ Consumer Products Containing Lead (Contact with Mouth) and Surface Coating Materials Regulations.” (accessed November 29, 2010)
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