Science With Purpose

Don’t Bring Heavy Metals into the Kid’s Playroom

Don’t Bring Heavy Metals into the Kid’s Playroom

February 4, 2021
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Every birthday and each holiday season, caregivers are busy running around looking for the perfect present for their children or grandchildren. And of course, most shopping aisles and online shopping carts are filled with what most children have on their wish lists: toys.

What’s not on any child’s wish list? Hexavalent chromium and other toxic metalloids and metals.

The Dangers of Hexavalent Chromium

Harmful metals and metalloids can be found in raw materials, paints, and additives that are used in toy manufacturing processes. Safety standards regulate the levels of harmful metals and metalloids like aluminum, arsenic, barium, chromium, cobalt, nickel, and chromium, which occur in various forms in soil, rocks, and plants.

Metallic chromium, used in industrial processes due to its ideal anti-corrosive and heat-resistant properties, is a carcinogen when presented as hexavalent chromium. Hexavalent chromium (chromium VI) is often found in chromate pigments, dyes, paints, inks, plastics, corrosion inhibitors, and tanned leathers, and is harmful to humans. Unfortunately, because of the way young children play with their toys, they can end up ingesting the hexavalent chromium present on them.

Because of hexavalent chromium’s toxicity, which makes it unlike other forms of chromium, trace testing and analysis must be thorough and accurate.

Testing for Toxic Toys

As part of the regulatory process, materials get separated into three categories:

  1. Sticky and liquid materials
  2. Pliable and dry powder-like materials
  3. Scraped-off materials

Each of the three categories, per the EN Standard 71-3, has a migration standard. Hexavalent chromium is regulated strictly in toy products, and it is important to quantitatively analyze and distinguish between the various oxidation states of chromium.

In this application, the system used requires a metal-free, inert fluid path; otherwise, the fluid path could contribute to chromium chromatographic baseline.

Key features and benefits of this application:

  • A metal-free, inert fluid path avoids affecting the limits of detection and quantification
  • Pure reaction gases in the ICP-MS prevent molecular interference
  • A quadrupole-based reaction cell can selectively interact with and eliminate this interference

Together these features allow for the accurate measurement of chromium concentrations at low-ppt levels.

Download this application note to learn more about the importance of testing for hexavalent chromium in toys.


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