Millions of toys have been recalled around the world because of hazardous levels of lead or cadmium, choking hazards, dangerous magnets and other safety hazards. According to a press release from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), two new standards in the ISO 8124 toy safety series aim to reduce the risk of a child being injured by unsafe equipment or dangerous substances.

“There is no question that ISO 8124 is a cornerstone of the global toy safety network,” said Arnie Rubin, CEO of Funrise and president of the International Council of Toy Industries, in a recent interview in ISO's magazine,ISO Focus+. “Assuring the safety of children has been our industry’s priority.”

Published under the generic title,Safety of toys, the ISO 8124 series of standards are designed to minimize potential toy hazards arising from their use in intended play modes (normal use), as well as unintended play modes (reasonably foreseeable abuse).

New to the series isISO 8124-4:2010, Safety of toys – Part 4: Swings, slides and similar activity toys for indoor and outdoor family domestic use. The new standard gives requirements and test methods for swings, slides and many other activity toys, thereby ensuring fun and safe playtime. It applies to activity toys used indoors and outdoors by children under 14 years of age and in the family context only.

Accident data together with risk analyses were the basis for improvements in a new version ofISO 8124-3:2010, Safety of toys – Part 3: Migration of certain elements.The improved standard is intended to minimize children's exposure to potentially toxic elements by reducing the risk of harm if toys are ingested. It gives the maximum acceptable levels of dangerous substances such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and other materials possibly found in toys. ISO 8124-3:2010 replaces the previous 1997 edition.

In an ongoing effort to toughen toy safety, ISO technical committee ISO/TC 181,Safety of toys, has also updated and improved the first two parts in the series: Part 1:Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties, in 2009 and Part 2:Flammability, in 2007.

According to the Chair, the ISO 8124 series is expected to expand in the near future with the addition of three more new parts. These include:
  • Total concentration of certain elements in toy material
  • Determination of phthalate plasticizers in plasticized material
  • Fingerpaints.