InSight Blog

Toy Trouble: Detecting Hazardous Materials in a Popular Toy

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A recent news story highlighted that a consumer advisory group cautioned that some popular ‘spinner’ toys contain lead.

The spinner toys are marketed toward teenagers, with most packaging advising that they’re suitable for ages 14+. This avoids the more stringent requirements for toys targeted at children under 12, who are more likely to put toys in their mouth and are in danger of ingesting hazardous substances, such as lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), and bromine (Br). Exposure to these hazardous materials, even in small amounts, can be dangerous for children’s developing brains.

Testing toys with the Vanta handheld XRF analyzer
We tested 5 varieties of spinner toys with the Vanta handheld XRF analyzer to detect if they contained unsafe levels of hazardous substances.

In the holiday gifting season, with toy sales on the rise, we tested a few spinner toys that we had in our possession using a Vanta handheld XRF analyzer. All spinners were purchased in the United States, and none had any warnings for hazardous materials on the label. The Vanta analyzer can detect hazardous substances, such as lead and cadmium, to parts-per-million levels. When the analyzer detects an element beyond the limit levels, a fail result appears.

Testing toys with the Vanta handheld XRF analyzer.

Of the 5 spinners we tested, one failed our tests with high levels of lead.

One toy failed testing when the analyzer indicated unsafe levels of lead.
One toy failed testing when the analyzer indicated unsafe levels of lead.

The analyzer didn’t detect any hazardous materials in the other 4 toys.
The analyzer didn’t detect any hazardous materials in the other 4 toys.

Government agencies enforce regulations to protect the public from toxicity and pollution associated with consumer products and electronics. Due to their fast, nondestructive, and on-the-spot screening capabilities, Vanta analyzers are important tools for establishing a reasonable testing program for monitoring compliance with regulatory requirements.

The results of this study show just how important these reasonable testing programs are to help ensure that companies who manufacture consumer goods, especially toys, use the correct materials. During this holiday season, we’re proud to know that our products are helping suppliers and regulators keep the public safe.

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Marketing Specialist, Analytical Instruments

Michelle has more than 9 years experience in marketing communications and works in Olympus' Analytical Instruments business to promote X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction analyzers. She works with product, engineering, and applications groups for new product launches, to create webinars, and to write application notes.
December 20, 2017
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