Is My Child’s Toy Toxic? Read the Label


There are thousands of children's toy manufacturers around the world. Toys can be made of metal, plastic, paint, fabric and many other components, but are they really safe for your children. has compiled information from scientific experts to help parents make sense of information they are hearing about toys and chemicals. The website recently published an essay on exposure to chemicals in toys, what it means for children’s health and ways that parents can minimize the risk to their children, and an essay on physical hazards with toys and the types of prevention and first aid needed to address these hazards.


“Parents can protect their child from chemicals in toys by choosing appropriate toys designed for their child’s age and paying attention to warnings on the labels,” said Dr. Rick Reiss, an expert on exposure assessment who authored the “Chemical Risks in Children’s Toys?” essay “The most important thing a parent can do is to assure that very young children do not have access to toys that are not intended for their age.”


For example, Dr. Reiss noted, some toy jewelry contains levels of lead and cadmium. While these toys may be safe if they are only touched (lead and cadmium don’t easily penetrate human skin), they may not be safe if mouthed, since lead and cadmium dissolve in saliva and then get swallowed.


The most important thing a parent can do, according to, is often the simplest thing: READ THE LABEL. A quality toy company that is in compliance with international regulations will carefully develop label warnings intended to provide parents with information to minimize risk. The most important information is usually the recommended age range. This recommendation is based on knowledge of typical behaviors of children of different ages.


Parent should not only scrutinize the information on this website, but also on other websites or press releases that claim harm from chemical exposures found in various toys. Sometimes such claims only identify whether hazardous chemicals are present in toys, regardless of whether those chemicals can actually be absorbed by the child, which is necessary for a potential risk to has two relevant essays on the website that helps parents sort through some of these issues with toys, and a link to a video that explains the difference between hazard and risk. It is important for parents to appreciate this difference in order to determine whether a hazardous chemical in a toy poses a potential risk. is a new online tool, the content of which is developed by experts at Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), Cincinnati Children’s Drug and Poison Information Center, NSF International and others to help parents, educators and concerned citizens make sound, science-based decisions about the chemicals they and their families use every day. The site contains balanced scientific information on a range of topics to help parents and the public better understand and translate information on hazards and potential risks related to chemical exposures. Currently, the site includes information on asthma, carbon monoxide, compact fluorescent lamps, fluoride, organic foods, toys, and general information about toxicology, peer review and risk assessment. Additional topics will be incorporated and continuously updated.


Content for is peer reviewed by experts from various scientific, government and medical organizations. This peer review ensures the accuracy of the information provided. Parents and other members of the public can get involved and suggest topics for discussion and analysis using the “Ask an Expert” feature on the website.


TERA is a non-profit and tax-exempt organization organized for scientific and educational purposes. Its mission is to support the protection of public health by developing, reviewing and communicating risk assessment values and analyses; improving risk methods through research; and, educating risk assessors, managers, and the public on risk assessment issues. TERA works in an independent, transparent and collaborative fashion and communicates its findings widely.