Product Liability

CPSC announces new toy safety standards

To help educate parents about toy safety, Consumer Product Safety CommissionChairman Inez Tenenbaum held a town-hall style meeting in New York City. Discussions centered on new federal safety rules that raise the standards for toys and help protect children from unnecessary harm.

As more and more toys are manufactured in China, many parents have become increasingly vigilant for toys that could potentially harm their children. Overseas toy manufacturers frequently set low safety standards for themselves. Worse, they often violate the safety standards established by the U.S. government, prompting the CPSC to issue safety alerts and toy recalls.

When toy manufacturers ignore minimal safety standards, such as the federal limit for lead in paint, thousands of dangerous toys can flood the marketplace and households nationwide. These “bad” toys usually go undetected until the manufacturer, the CPSC, or both start receiving valid complaints and injury reports. When sufficient cause for concern exists, the CPSC will issue a safety alert or product recall.

Tenenbaum told the audience that the new rules, which were implemented earlier, will be enforced starting this year. The new regulations include:

  • dropping the legal allowance for lead in paint on children’s toys to 90 parts per million, which is one of the lowest in the world
  • requiring testing of toys for children 12 and younger and certifying that they meet the new lead in paint limits
  • Restricting total lead in children’s toys to no more than 300 parts per million
  • prohibiting children’s toys from being made or sold with more than 0.1% of six prohibited phthalates
  • Imposing mandatory standards on most children’s toys rather than relying on voluntary ones

“It is important to make safety a priority when making your holiday toy purchases this season,” said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “CPSC has worked hard this year to give parents and grandparents greater confidence that the toys they seek to purchase have enhanced safety protections for children.”

Increased enforcement at the ports, cooperation with other nations, consumer awareness and education, and industry compliance with new federal regulations have all played a role in drastically reducing the number of toy recalls. The CPSC said that there have been 38 toy recalls in 2009 so far – down from 162 in 2008 and 148 in 2007. Toy recalls involving lead paint have fallen from 63 in 2007 and 85 in 2008 to 38 so far in 2009.

The CPSC received reports of 19 toy-related deaths and about 172,700 injuries serious enough to require hospitalization involving children under 15 in 2008. About half of those injuries involved children younger than 5.