Industry Guide to Health Canada's Safety Requirements for Children's Toys and Related Products
Table of Contents
- Safety requirements for toys
- Definition of a toy
- Mechanical hazards
- Drop test procedure
- Push/pull test procedure
- Certain requirements for toys for children of all ages
- Certain requirements specific to toys for children under three years of age
- Flammability hazards
- Toxicological hazards
- Microbiological hazards
- Electrical hazards
- Thermal hazards
- Plant seeds - stuffing material
- Other legislation for children's products
- Considerations and recommendations
- Toy labelling
- Toy testing
- Certain additional legislation applicable to toys
- Appendix A - Information resources
This document provides information about the safety requirements that apply under the Toys Regulations to children's toys and related products manufactured, advertised, imported or sold in Canada.
This document is an unofficial summary of the safety requirements for children's toys under the Toys Regulations. It is not intended to substitute for, supersede or limit the requirements under the applicable legislation. In case of any discrepancy between this summary and the legislation, the legislation will prevail. For further information, contact a Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Office via email (email@example.com) or telephone at 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States).
To obtain information on the legislative requirements for children's toys and related products not covered in this document, refer to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and its Regulations listed under Appendix B - Information Resources.
Children's toys and related products manufactured, imported, advertised or sold in Canada are subject to the CCPSA and the Toys Regulations.
In addition to the product-specific requirements noted in this document, it is prohibited to manufacture, import, advertise or sell any consumer product that is a "danger to human health or safety" as defined in the CCPSA (see paragraphs 7(a) and 8(a)).
The onus is on industry to comply with the legislation.
The Consumer Product Safety Program administers and enforces the CCPSA and its regulations. Enforcement actions taken by Product Safety Officers on noncompliant products depend on the degree of hazard associated with noncompliance, and include commitment to product correction by industry, negotiation with industry for the voluntary removal of these products from the market, seizure and/or prosecution under the CCPSA. Any person that manufactures, imports, advertises, or sells noncompliant products that result in property damage, injury or death may also be subject to legal liability.
Safety requirements for toys
There are several regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) that address specific hazards with children's toys. The main regulation, however, is the Toys Regulations. The Toys Regulations address a wide range of mechanical, flammability, toxicological, electrical, thermal and other hazards associated with children's toys. Other regulations, such as those listed below, may also apply to a specific toy, depending on the toy's design, construction, contents and, in some cases, how it is marketed.
- Consumer Products Containing Lead Regulations
- Children’s Jewellery Regulations
- Glazed Ceramics and Glassware Regulations
- Tents Regulations
- Phthalates Regulations
- Science Education Sets Regulations
- Surface Coating Materials Regulations
- Textile Flammability Regulations
Under the CCPSA there are also several prohibitions that could apply to certain toys. Schedule 2 of the CCPSA lists specific products that are prohibited from being manufactured, imported, advertised or sold. This list identifies the following, among others, as prohibited products:
- certain teethers for babies
- certain kite strings and kites
- certain lawn darts
- jequirity beans
For a complete list of prohibited consumer products, please refer to Schedule 2 of the CCPSA.
Definition of a toy
The Toys Regulations define a toy as: "a product that is intended for use by a child under 14 years of age in learning or play." (Section 1 of the Toys Regulations)
The following sections highlight several of the requirements for toys by providing a simple description of the hazard and the associated requirement.
Many of the safety requirements of the Toys Regulations address mechanical hazards. Several of these requirements state that a hazard must not be exposed with reasonably foreseeable use of a toy by a child.
Standardized tests for reasonably foreseeable use have been developed - drop test and push/pull test procedures - as outlined in the Health Canada Product Safety Laboratory Method M01.1: Test Procedures to Determine the Mechanical Hazards of Toys - Reasonably Foreseeable Use.
The drop and push/pull test procedures are utilized as standardized tests that attempt to expose a toy to conditions of reasonably foreseeable use by a child. However, depending on the design, construction and contents of a toy, a child playing with it may be exposed to hazards that are not revealed through these standard tests. It is the responsibility of industry members to ensure that a toy does not present hazards when it is used in a reasonably foreseeable way and to recognize that children will not necessarily interact with a toy in the same manner as an adult.
In order to verify the safety of a toy, it may be appropriate to conduct other tests and/or to complete "use and abuse" testing as prescribed by other recognized toy safety standards. Some examples of other standardized "use and abuse" tests include: flexure, torque, compression and seam strength tests.
Drop test procedure
The Product Safety Laboratory Method M01.1 drop test procedure states that a toy be dropped four times onto a tile-covered concrete floor. Each drop is conducted with the toy in a different orientation. The orientations chosen are those considered as most likely to cause damage during the drop. A toy is dropped from a height of 1.37 metres (4.5 feet) if it is likely to be used by a child under three years of age. It is dropped from a height of 0.91 metres (3 feet) if it is likely to be used by a child of three years of age or older. Following each drop the toy is inspected for applicable safety hazards such as detached small components, sharp points and sharp edges.
Push/pull test procedure
The Product Safety Laboratory Method M01.1 push/pull test procedure specifies that a push or pull force of 44.5 newtons (10 pound-force) be gradually applied over a 5-second period and then maintained for 10 seconds. The procedure is completed on any part of a toy that is likely to become detached or damaged by the application of such a force. Following each push or pull the toy is inspected for relevant safety hazards such as detached small components, sharp points and sharp edges. More severe push/pull tests are mandatory in two instances:
- for the eyes and noses of dolls, plush and other soft toys, a load of 9 kilograms (20 pounds) is suspended from the eye or nose for 5 minutes (see the "Other mechanical hazards" section of this guide). (Section 31 of the Toys Regulations)
- for rattles a push/pull force of 50 newtons (11.2 pound-force) is applied (see the "Rattles" section of this guide). (Paragraph 40(c) of the Toys Regulations)
Certain requirements for toys for children of all ages
A number of safety requirements related to mechanical hazards are specific to a toy that is or is likely to be used by a child under three years of age, while other requirements apply to all toys, regardless of their age classification. The following are some examples of mechanical safety requirements that all toys must meet, regardless of the age of child who is likely to use the toy.
- Flexible film bags used for toy packaging that are 356 millimetres (14 inches) or larger in opening circumference must bear a suffocation hazard warning, in both official languages (English and French). (Section 4 of the Toys Regulations)
- PLASTIC BAGS CAN BE DANGEROUS. TO AVOID DANGER OF SUFFOCATION, KEEP THIS BAG AWAY FROM BABIES AND CHILDREN.
- LES SACS DE PLASTIQUE PEUVENT ÊTRE DANGEREUX. POUR ÉVITER LE DANGER DE SUFFOCATION, NE LAISSEZ PAS CE SAC À LA PORTÉE DES BÉBÉS NI DES ENFANTS.
- Such bags must also be made of film that is at least 0.019 millimetres (0.75 mil) thick. For example, the film for common dry-cleaning bags (approximately 0.017 millimetres (0.67 mil) thick) is too thin for use as a toy product bag if the opening circumference is 356 millimetres (14 inches) or larger. (Section 4 of the Toys Regulations)
- Any toy that is large enough for a child to enter or be placed inside and that can be closed by a lid or door, such as a toy box, must have ventilation holes or openings of sufficient size on two or more sides in order to prevent suffocation. Therefore, any plastic, rubber or similar air-tight storage bin that is large enough to enclose a child cannot be promoted for toy storage. Additional safety information on toy storage products is provided in the "Toy storage boxes and bins" section on of this guide. (Section 17 of the Toys Regulations)
Yo-yo type balls
To minimize strangulation hazards with yo-yo type balls and similar products, their cords must not stretch to 500 millimetres or more in length. (Section 42 of the Toys Regulations)
- In accordance with international standards, it is Health Canada's policy that toys where the ball end weighs less than 20 grams are not considered "yo-yo type balls and similar products."
An elastic designed for attaching a toy across a baby carriage, crib or playpen must not stretch beyond 750 millimetres (30 inches) or it must not extend more than 75% of its relaxed length. (Section 41 of the Toys Regulations)
Sharpness and puncture hazards
- Toys containing metal parts must be constructed so that there are no exposed sharp metal edges. (Section 8 of the Toys Regulations)
- Toys containing an embedded wire frame or structure must have the wire ends covered or turned in, such that no sharp points can become exposed with reasonably foreseeable use. (Section 9 of the Toys Regulations)
- Plastic toys and plastic parts of toys must not break with reasonably foreseeable use to expose sharp edges. (Section 10 of the Toys Regulations)
- All fasteners used to make toys, such as nails, staples, bolts and screws, must be securely and properly attached so that they do not expose a child to a hazard. (Section 13 of the Toys Regulations)
- Stuffing material in dolls, plush toys and soft toys must be free from hard and sharp matter. (Paragraph 29(b) of the Toys Regulations)
- Projectile toys capable of causing puncture wounds, such as arrows and gun darts, must have the leading ends covered with protective tips that cannot be detached by a pulling force of 44.5 newtons (10 pound-force). (Section 16 of the Toys Regulations)
- Wooden toys must be smoothly finished. (Section 11 of the Toys Regulations)
Hearing damage hazards
In order to help protect children's hearing when they play with toys, toys must not make or emit noise exceeding 100 decibels when measured at the distance the toy would ordinarily be from the ear of the child who is using it. (Section 19 of the Toys Regulations)
Health Canada Product Safety Laboratory Test Method to Determine the Noise Level of Toys (Method M04) is used to assess toys for compliance with this requirement. The method specifies ordinary use distances for several different groups of toys (for example, toy phones, handheld toys and tabletop/floor toys). The method also specifies that the maximal sound pressure level emitted by a toy be measured using the "Fast" or "F" time weighting and the "A" frequency weighting, over a minimum five second sound generation period.
Powerful magnets that are very small can be easily swallowed or inhaled. When this happens, the strength of certain powerful magnets makes them capable of attracting each other through several layers of intestines or other tissues. The resulting injuries can be very serious and life-threatening. In order to help protect children from these injuries, the Toys Regulations restricts both the size and the attractive strength of magnetic toys and magnetic components of toys. (Section 43 of the Toys Regulations)
- magnetic toys or magnetic toy components that can be totally enclosed in the small parts cylinder (Schedule 1 of the Toys Regulations), are not allowed, unless the magnetic flux index is less than 0.5T2mm2. The restriction also applies to magnetic components that separate after a series of integrity tests is applied, as outlined in Schedule 9 of the Regulations.
- two exceptions are provided: one for magnets in electrical components, and one for advanced experimental kits for children eight years of age or older where the kit has a specified warning. (Section 44 of the Toys Regulations).
Other mechanical hazards
- Toys with folding mechanisms, such as a child's folding chair, must have a safety stop or locking device which prevents unintentional collapse. Children have had their fingertips amputated when folding chairs collapsed unexpectedly. (Section 14 of the Toys Regulations)
- Toys with a winding key or spring-wound driving mechanism must be constructed to prevent finger injury. (Section 15 of the Toys Regulations)
- Stationary toys designed to hold the weight of a child must stand level and firm when used in order to reduce fall hazards. (Section 18 of the Toys Regulations)
- In order to help eliminate choking, ingestion and inhalation hazards from loose eyes and noses on dolls, plush toys and soft toys, any eye or nose that is 32 millimetres (1.25 inches) or less in its greatest dimension must be securely attached. Where such a component can be grasped, it is tested by freely suspending a 9 kilogram (20 pound) weight from it for a period of 5 minutes. This requirement does not apply to eyes or noses made entirely of felt or other soft textile fibre material. The Product Safety Laboratory Method M01.2 Test Procedures to Determine the Mechanical Hazards of Toys - Reasonably Foreseeable Use of Dolls and Plush Toys is applied for mechanical testing of dolls, plush toys and soft toys. (Section 31 of the Toys Regulations)
Certain requirements specific to toys for children under three years of age
The Toys: Age Classification Guidelines are available from Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety Directorate or a Regional Product Safety Office to assist businesses in identifying toys that are likely to be used by a child under three years of age.
Toys with small components
Since young children often put things in their mouths, small objects in a child's environment present choking, ingestion and inhalation hazards. The Toys Regulations aim to help protect young children from small component hazards in toys. The Regulations require that any toy that is or is likely to be used by a child under three years of age must not have a small separable component or have a small component that can detach from the toy with reasonably foreseeable use (see the "Drop test procedure" and the "Push/pull test procedure" sections of this guide). (Section 7 of the Toys Regulations)
If a separable or detachable toy component can be totally enclosed in the small parts cylinder, as illustrated, using a force of 4.45 newtons (1 pound-force) or less, then the toy does not meet the requirement. The small component requirement does not apply to toys or toy components that are made entirely of soft textile fibre material (for example, cotton doll socks). (Section 1 of the Toys Regulations)
Small parts cylinder
The illustration depicts a test gauge that is used to identify a part that is of such a size and shape that it presents an aspiration (choking) or ingestion hazard to young children. It is a hollow cylinder with an inner diameter of 31.7 mm. A plate (or similar device) is placed inside the cylinder at a 45 degree angle such that the minimum depth of the cylinder is 25.4 mm and the maximum depth of the cylinder is 57.1 mm. No specifications are provided for the wall or floor thickness of the cylinder.
- not to scale
- dimensions in millimetres
- parenthesized dimensions in inches and for information only
Note that if a toy is age labelled for children three years or older, but is likely to be used by a child under three years of age, then the small component requirement of the legislation applies.
Small components are serious choking, ingestion and inhalation hazards for young children. Examples of some types of toys that Health Canada has taken action on because of small components include:
- simple puzzles with small pieces - make sure that none of the pieces fit into the small parts cylinder
- simple puzzles with small pegs for grasping - make sure that the pegs are securely attached and will not pull or break off
- simple cars and trucks - make sure that the small wheels and tires do not separate from the vehicle
- dolls, plush toys and soft toys with small attachments (for example, eyes, nose, decorations) - make sure that small attachments cannot be pulled off when exposed to the appropriate force
- bath toys and squeeze toys with squeakers - make sure that small squeakers and reeds cannot be pulled out of the toy
- rattles and other infant toys made of brittle plastic - these toys can easily break when dropped and release small or sharp components
- toys with battery compartments that are not securely closed - make sure that small batteries will not be accessible or released when the toy is dropped or pushed and pulled
Plant seeds - pellets for making noise
A toy intended for use by a child under three years of age must not contain plant seeds as pellets for making noise. For example, a wooden rattle containing plant seeds is not allowed. Plant seeds include, but are not limited to: barley, corn kernels, oat seeds, rice, lavender seeds, and flax seeds. Further restrictions on the use of plant seeds in toys are described in the "Plant seeds-stuffing material" section of this guide. (Section 35 of the Toys Regulations)
A rattle is a toy that is intended for an infant to hold in their hand and is intended to make noise when it is shaken. A rattle, in addition to meeting all other applicable safety requirements under the Toys Regulations, must be constructed such that no part of it can fit all the way through the opening of the rattle impaction test gauge. This requirement helps protect an infant from taking part of a rattle into their mouth and having it lodge in the back of their throat obstructing breathing. Careful examination of the size and shape of all rattles is required, with special attention to key shaped rattles and animal shaped rattles (for example, those with long ears or feet). (Paragraph 40(b) of the Toys Regulations)
This requirement also applies to any part of the rattle that can be removed with a force of 50 newtons (11.2 pound force) or a torque of less than 1 newton metre (8.85 inch pounds). The Health Canada Product Safety Laboratory Test Method for Rattles (Method M05) is used to assess rattles for compliance with this requirement. (Paragraph 40(c) of the Toys Regulations)
Rattle impaction test gauge
The illustration depicts a test gauge that is used to identify a part that is of such a size and shape that it presents a throat impaction hazard to young children. It is a rectangular block with a length of 80 mm, a width of 65 mm and a thickness of 30 mm. There is a centred cut-out through the middle of the rectangular block. The cut-out section is a rectangle with half-circles on opposite ends. The cut-out section has a total length of 50 mm and a total width of 35 mm. The half circles at each end of the rectangle have a radius of 17.5 mm, and the central rectangle of the cut-out is 15 mm in length and 35 mm in width.
(Schedule 8 of the Toys Regulations)
- not to scale
- dimensions in millimetres
- parenthesized dimensions in inches and for information only
Pull or push toys
All pull or push toys with shaft-like handles of 10 millimetres in diameter or less, in addition to meeting all other applicable safety requirements, must have a protective tip attached to the end of the handle. The protective attachment is required to prevent puncture wounds and must be held in place with enough strength to withstand a pulling force of 44.5 newtons. (Section 37 of the Toys Regulations)
Dolls, plush toys and soft toys
Stringent flammability requirements are in place for all textile materials used for the outer covering of dolls, plush toys and soft toys, including their clothing, as well as for the hair on these types of toys. The purpose of these requirements is to help protect children from burn injuries by prohibiting the use of materials that ignite rapidly and burn rapidly.
A doll, plush toy or soft toy fails the requirements of the Toys Regulations if samples of its outer fabric, held at an angle of 45 degrees, ignite within 1 second of contact with a flame and the flame travels a distance of 127 millimetres (5 inches) in 7 seconds or less. A different test is employed if the exposed surface of the doll, plush toy or soft toy is made of yarn. Additionally, a doll, plush toy or soft toy fails the requirement if it has hair or a mane that ignites within 1 second of contact with a flame and does not self-extinguish within 2 seconds after the flame is removed. There are several conditions and exceptions for these flammability requirements, please refer to the Toys Regulations for complete details. The Health Canada Product Safety Laboratory Test Method for the Flammability of Toys (Dolls, Plush Toys and Soft Toys) (Method F02) is used to assess compliance with these requirements. (Sections 32, 33 and 34 of the Toys Regulations)
Children's play tents
Children's play tents, in addition to meeting all applicable toy safety requirements, must meet the requirements of the Tents Regulations under the CCPSA, which address flammability hazards and include performance and labelling requirements.
Other textile products for children
Flammability requirements are also in place for other textile products for children. Details of the requirements for textile products in general, such as children's daywear, costumes and bedding can be found in the Textile Flammability Regulations under the CCPSA. Further requirements for children's sleepwear can be found in the Children's Sleepwear Regulations under the CCPSA.
- To minimize exposure to known harmful chemicals, accessible toxic substances must not be used in toys or they must be restricted to limited amounts based on known toxicity parameters. (Section 25 and Schedule 2 of the Toys Regulations)
- Substances that are excessively corrosive, excessively irritant or excessively strong sensitizers are not permitted for use in toys if they can come in contact with the skin. (Section 26 and Schedule 3 of the Toys Regulations)
- The Toys Regulations require that all finger paints be water-based. (Section 39 of the Toys Regulations)
Specific toxic substances
The Toys Regulations prohibit the following toys.
- Toys that have a surface coating materialFootnote 1 applied to them that contains any of the following substances: (Section 23 of the Toys Regulations)
- total lead in excess of 90 mg/kg
- a compound of antimony, arsenic, cadmium, selenium or barium if more than 0.1% of the compound dissolves in 5% hydrochloric acid after being stirred for 10 minutes at 20°C
- a compound of mercuryFootnote 2
- Toys that contain carbon tetrachloride, methyl alcohol, petroleum distillate, benzene, turpentine, boric acid or ethyl ether (specific conditions apply, please see the Toys Regulations for complete details). (Section 22 of the Toys Regulations)
- Balloon blowing kits that contain any aromatic, aliphatic or other organic solvent. (Section 24 of the Toys Regulations)
Consumer Products Containing Lead Regulations
The Consumer Products Containing Lead Regulations under the CCPSA set a total lead limit of not more than 90 mg/kg for the accessible parts of children’s toys.
The 90 mg/kg total lead limit under the Consumer Products Containing Lead Regulations applies to accessible product components, defined as "any part of a product that may be touched, licked, mouthed, or swallowed during the reasonably foreseeable use of the product." The lead content restrictions in the Consumer Products Containing Lead Regulations also apply to accessible parts of certain products for children that are not toys (for example, baby bottle nipples, pacifiers, children’s clothing and children’s clothing accessories). There are certain product exceptions for the 90 mg/kg total lead limit. Please refer to the Consumer Products Containing Lead Regulations for complete details.
Surface Coating Materials Regulations
The Surface Coating Materials Regulations under the CCPSA limit total lead to not more than 90 mg/kg and total mercury to not more than 10 mg/kg in surface coating materials. These limits aim to effectively prohibit the intentional addition of lead and mercury in surface coating materials, and serve to help protect children from toxicity associated with lead and mercury exposure. The Surface Coating Materials Regulations apply to a variety of surface coating materials of all forms (for example, liquid, aerosol, dried pellets, gel, wax and powder), including those for use by children for the purposes of arts, crafts, hobbies, etc.
The Phthalates Regulations under the CCPSA restrict the allowable concentrations of each of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) to not more than 1,000 mg/kg (0.1%) in the soft vinyl of toys and in the soft vinyl of child care articles:Footnote 3
In addition, the allowable concentrations of each of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP) must not exceed 1,000 mg/kg (0.1%) in the soft vinyl of toys and in the soft vinyl of child care articles where the soft vinyl can, in a reasonably foreseeable manner, be placed in the mouth of a child under four years of age.
- The "under four years of age" qualification does not refer to the age classification of the toy. The DINP, DIDP and DNOP limit applies to all soft vinyl parts of a toy, regardless of the age of child it is intended to be used by, as long as the part can, in a reasonably foreseeable manner, be placed in the mouth of a child under four years of age.
- To identify a part of a toy that can be placed in the mouth of a child under four years of age it must be a part that can be brought to a child's mouth and kept there so that it can be sucked or chewed and it must have one of its dimensions less than 5 cm. If the part of a toy is inflatable, its dimensions are determined in its deflated state.
Science Education Sets Regulations
The Science Education Sets Regulations under the CCPSA are in place to help reduce potential hazards associated with the use and mixture of chemicals provided in these sets. The Regulations also help protect against the cultivation of pathogenic micro-organisms. The Regulations apply to a variety of science education sets that are intended for use by older children, including chemistry, biology, microscopy and environmental sets.
The Regulations help minimize the risks of: the possible ingestion of, or skin contact with, toxic or corrosive chemicals; the mixing of strongly reactive chemicals which could produce violent reactions; and the cultivation of pathogenic micro-organisms. The labelling of chemicals, as required by the Regulations, advises the user of the hazards associated with the chemicals and the need for taking precautions when they are used.
Products for babies, including teethers, pacifiers, and baby bottle nipples that are put in the mouth when used and have a filling that contains a living micro-organism are prohibited (see item 4 of Schedule 2 to the CCPSA). This prohibition aims to help protect infants from illness and injury should the filling become accessible to them. Health Canada employs the current official edition of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Sterility Test (currently, USP, General Chapter <71>) to assess compliance with this prohibition.
- Electric toys must meet the requirements as set out in Canadian Standards Association Standard C22.2 No. 149-1972 (reaffirmed in 2017), entitled Electrically Operated Toys. (Section 5 of the Toys Regulations)
- A toy that is an electric wood-burning tool must also meet all applicable requirements as set out in Canadian Standards Association Standard C22.2 No. 122-M1989 (reaffirmed in 2009), entitled Hand-Held Electrically Heated Tools. These requirements are in place to help minimize the potential for injury due to electrocution, burn and shock. (Section 6 of the Toys Regulations)
- Toy steam engine boilers must be equipped with an appropriate safety valve and they must be able to withstand pressures of at least three times the operating pressure of the boiler in order to protect against accidental rupturing. (Section 38 of the Toys Regulations)
- Non-electric toys (for example, battery operated toys) that have a surface, part or contents which may become hot with use must meet the applicable temperature limit and labelling requirement set out in the Canadian Standards Association Standard C22.2 No. 149-1972 (reaffirmed in 2017), entitled Electrically Operated Toys. For example, if a toy has carrying handles, the temperature of the handles cannot exceed 40°C. These requirements are in place to help protect against burn injuries. (Section 20 of the Toys Regulations)
Plant seeds-stuffing material
A toy, regardless of the age of child it is intended to be used by, must not contain plant seeds as stuffing material. Plant seeds include, but are not limited to: barley, corn kernels, oat seeds, rice, lavender seeds and flax seeds. This requirement protects children from a number of hazards, including: toxicity, aspiration, impaction and infestation. Further restrictions on the use of plant seeds in toys are described in the "Plant seeds-pellets for making noise" section of this guide. (Section 36 of the Toys Regulations)
Other legislation for children's products
Furniture and other articles for children
The Surface Coating Materials Regulations under the CCPSA require that furniture and other articles for children (such as, but not limited to, baby gates, baby bottles, pacifiers, children's lunch boxes and fasteners on children's clothing), must not have a surface coating material that contains more than 90 mg/kg total lead.
Pencils and artists' brushes
According to the Surface Coating Materials Regulations, pencils and artists' brushes must not have a surface coating material that contains more than 90 mg/kg total lead. This requirement applies whether or not the pencils or artists' brushes are intended for children.
Different requirements under the CCPSA apply depending on whether a consumer product is considered children's toy jewellery or children's jewellery. The distinction between children's toy jewellery and children's jewellery is described below.
Toy jewellery includes items intended for use by a child in learning or play, such as in dress-up play and role play. It also includes jewellery that is intended to be worn by a toy. Toy jewellery is subject to all requirements for toys under the CCSPA.
Children's jewellery is jewellery that is manufactured, sized, decorated, packaged, advertised or sold in a manner that appeals primarily to children under 15 years of age but does not include merit badges, medals for achievement or other similar objects normally worn only occasionally.
The Children's Jewellery Regulations under the CCSPA sets limits of not more than 90 mg/kg total lead and not more than 130 mg/kg total cadmium for children's jewellery. Check the Industry Guide to Children's Jewellery for more information.
Children’s jewellery items that are intended for use by a child in learning or play, such as a soap bubble vial and wand attached to a necklace, are also subject to all applicable requirements of the Toys Regulations and other requirements for toys under the CCPSA.
Children's cosmetic items, such as perfume, lipstick, makeup, nail polish, shaving cream, Halloween makeup, face paint and similar items are regulated by Health Canada under the Cosmetic Regulations of the Food and Drugs Act. Where a toy is included with a cosmetic item, for example, a bath toy embedded in a bath soap, the toy component is subject to all applicable requirements for toys under the CCPSA.
Considerations and recommendations
The Toys Regulations and other regulations under the CCPSA do not address all known hazards with toys. Industry members, such as manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers, are ultimately responsible for the safety of the toys that they produce or sell. The following sections describe Health Canada's recommendations to industry members regarding some hazards not addressed by the Toys Regulations or other regulations under the CCPSA.
A number of deaths have resulted from children choking on uninflated latex balloons or fragments of broken latex balloons. In order to inform consumers of this hazard, industry members are urged to apply an appropriate warning, such as the one which follows, in both official languages (English and French), to all packages of latex balloons.
- CHOKING HAZARD - Children under 8 years can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Adult supervision required. Keep uninflated balloons away from children. Discard broken balloons at once.
- MISE EN GARDE!
- DANGER D'ÉTOUFFEMENT - Les enfants de moins de 8 ans peuvent s'étouffer ou suffoquer avec des ballons non gonflés ou éclatés. La surveillance doit être assurée par un adulte. Tenir les ballons non gonflés à l'écart des enfants. Jeter immédiatement les ballons éclatés.
Toy storage boxes and bins
A toy storage box or bin with a heavy lid that can fall freely poses dangerous strangulation and impact hazards to a child. This type of toy box design should never be used. Alternatives include a toy box without a lid, or one with a hinged lid designed to stay open in any position and under force.
Ventilation requirements are defined for any toy that is large enough for a child to enter into and that can be closed by a lid or door, such as a toy box. These requirements are described in the "Suffocation hazards" section of this guide.
Toys with cords
Cords or straps on toys in the form of loops or straight lengths pose a strangulation hazard especially to infants and young children. The hazard is present when a loop is large enough to fit over a child's head, or when a straight length of cord is long enough to wrap around a child's neck.
Health Canada recommends that cords or straps on toys be avoided or of minimal length in toys intended for young children. The cords of yo-yo type balls and similar products must not stretch to 500 mm or more in length (see the "Strangulation hazards" section of this guide).
Bean bag chairs
The small foam pellets or beads used as filling in bean bag chairs are easily inhaled by young children and they present a suffocation hazard. Health Canada recommends that these types of chairs have secure closures that do not allow young children to gain access to the pellets or beads.
While the Toys Regulations do not require that toys be labelled for age appropriateness or that they bear warning labels for choking hazards, such labelling is strongly encouraged. Appropriate age labels and valid choking hazard warnings provide valuable safety information to consumers when they purchase toys.
Health Canada recommends that a choking hazard warning in both official languages (English and French) be placed on a toy, its package or its instructions for use. Such a warning is appropriate and recommended when the toy, or any of its removable components, can fit entirely into the small parts cylinder and the toy is intended for children who are at least three years of age but under six years of age.
Note that regardless of the age label on the toy, any toy considered by Health Canada as one that is or is likely to be used by a child under three years of age is subject to the strictest toy safety requirements: it must not be a small component, have a separable small component or release one with reasonably foreseeable use. The Toys: Age Classification Guidelines are available to assist industry members in identifying toys that are likely to be used by a child under three years of age.
Labelling requirements for toys and related products include:
- the labelling of flexible film bags for suffocation hazards (see "Suffocation hazards")
- the safety labelling of children's play tents as detailed in the Tents Regulations
- the safety labelling of electric toys as detailed in the applicable CSA standards (see "Electrical hazards")
- the safety labelling of chemicals as detailed in the Science Education Sets Regulations
- the French-language packaging and labelling requirements for consumer products sold in the province of Quebec (see "Certain additional legislation applicable to toys")
- the provincial labelling requirements for stuffed toys (see "Certain additional legislation applicable to toys")
- the federal labelling requirements for pre-packaged consumer products (see "Certain additional legislation applicable to toys")
It is the responsibility of industry members to ensure compliance of a toy product with Canadian toy safety legislation. Testing a toy against the requirements of the Toys Regulations and other applicable regulations under the CCPSA is a means of verifying compliance with these requirements. While not mandated, such testing should be performed by industry members or a laboratory prior to marketing a toy in Canada. When using the services of a private testing laboratory, industry members should verify that the laboratory: has a quality system in place (often verified through third party accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025), is familiar with Canadian toy safety requirements and test methods, and can test to these requirements.
To obtain a copy of test methods, email Health Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Canada, provincial and territorial legislation requires that electric toys must bear a compliance certification mark from a certification body accredited by the Standards Council of Canada. The certification mark indicates that the toy has been tested and meets all relevant requirements under the Canadian Electrical Code.
Certain additional legislation applicable to toys
Additional legislation may apply to toys. Industry members are advised to consult with relevant provincial, territorial and other legislation. The following highlights some such legislative requirements.
Packaging and labelling
All packaged toys must meet the requirements of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations. This legislation:
- requires that pre-packaged consumer products bear accurate and meaningful labelling information to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions
- prohibits false or misleading representations
- sets out specifications for mandatory label information, such as the product name, net quantity and dealer identity
This legislation is administered and enforced by Canada's Competition Bureau. For information regarding consumer packaging and labelling, visit Canada's Competition Bureau website.
In 2018 the Asbestos Products Regulations under the CCPSA were repealed because asbestos is now strictly prohibited in a broad range of products, including toys, under the Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
For more information visit: Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations
The Products Containing Mercury Regulations of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 prohibit the import and manufacture of products containing mercury or any of its compounds, with some exemptions for essential products which have no technically or economically viable alternatives.
For more information, see the Products Containing Mercury Regulations.
Toys sold in the province of Quebec
For toys sold in the Province of Quebec, certain language requirements for inscriptions on products, operation of products, and their packaging, instructions, etc. may be applicable under the authority of the Charter of the French Language (Charte de la langue française). Details concerning these and other Quebec requirements can be obtained by contacting the Office québécois de la langue française at: email@example.com.
Appendix A - Information resources
NOTICE: For further information visit the resources below or contact a Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Office via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone at 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States).
- Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCSPA) and its associated regulations
- Food and Drugs Act, Cosmetic Regulations
- Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Charter of the French Language (Charte de la langue française)
- Canada Consumer Product Safety Act Quick Reference Guide
- To report a health or safety incident involving a toy or other consumer product or cosmetic
- To subscribe for email updates about the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
- Guidance on Mandatory Incident Reporting under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act - Section 14 Duties in the Event of an Incident
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