Health & Safety

What are the standards for lead and other heavy metals in paints and elemental lead in children's toys?

The following are the mandatory and voluntary standards for children's toys:


Ban of Lead-Containing Paint and Certain Consumer Products Bearing Lead-Containing Paint (16 CFR 1303) This mandatory standard (regulation) was issued by a U.S. government agency and has the force of law. Toys or other articles intended for use by children are not to be marketed if they bear lead-containing paint or other surface coatings (ink). Lead-containing paint or other surface coatings are defined as having lead in excess of 0.06% (600 ppm) of the weight of the total nonvolatile content of the paint or the weight of the dried paint film. Paint and similar surface-coating materials such as varnish, shellac and lacquer are banned from paint intended for use in residences, schools, hospitals, parks, playgrounds, public buildings, and other areas where consumers will have direct access to painted surfaces, if the paint or surface coating contains lead or lead compounds in excess of 0.06% (600 ppm).


Voluntary standards are issued by private groups, often through a consensus process. Their use is wholly voluntary, unless a state or local governmental entity has adopted or incorporated them. These standards are often required by the end receiver of printed products. Although they are not law, they may be required by customers.


This voluntary standard sets limits for the amount of antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and selenium in surface-coating materials applied to children's toys. These limits are as follows:

Antimony 0.0060% (60ppm)
Arsenic 0.0025% (25ppm)
Barium 0.1000% (1000 ppm)
Cadmium 0.0075% (75 ppm)
Chromium 0.0060% (60 ppm)
Lead 0.0090% (90 ppm)
Mercury 0.0060% (60 ppm)
Selenium 0.0500% (500 ppm)