? about child-safe paint

joannaqcwApril 6, 2010

I'm making children's toys to give away, and I'm trying to figure out if there are any nontoxic (no heavy metals, low VOC) paints that also go on fairly solidly and have rich, non-plasticy colors. I've seen wooden rainbows etc. with lovely colors advertised as being made with nontoxic paints, but when I contact the manufacturer I can't get any information about what kind of paint was used. Have any of you had good experiences with child-safe paint?

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Are you aware of the new law regarding testing of all toys/clothing/etc. intended for children's use?

The implementation of this law has been suspended for several months, hopefully so the 'unintended consequences'(as a staffer for my US Senator put it) of that law can be fixed.

Basically, any toy must be tested by independent labs to certify there are no harmful compounds in the toy. That includes all wood toys with no finish at all. The costs of said testing can be $300 or more and each individual type must be tested. For instance, you make three different models of string tops from the same wood and using string from the same ball. All three have to be tested.

There are thousands(maybe hundreds of thousands) of folks like you that are affected, so if you have not done so, write your Senators and Congresspeople and protest those oversights.

Now, to the question. I use the paints sold at WalMart that are labeled Kids Paint---or something similar. They are certified kid safe.

Here is a link that might be useful: CPSIA

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 11:57AM
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Handymac, the situation may not be quite as dire as you suggest. Unfinished, untreated wood, at least, doesn't seem to be an issue.

I found this while poking around one of the pages of that site:

Are there exemptions/exclusions to meeting the lead content limits?

CPSC is currently working to determine exemptions to the lead content limits and the requirement to test. In the interim, until the Commission issues final rules in these areas, certain materials can be used in making products or be sold as childrenÂs products without risk of sanction or penalties by the Commission provided the manufacturer, distributor or seller does not have actual knowledge that the products have more than the acceptable lead limit. The Commission generally will not prosecute someone for making, selling or distributing items in these categories (see Table B) even if it turns out that such an item actually contains more than 600 ppm lead.

Sellers will not be immune from prosecution if CPSCÂs Office of Compliance finds that someone had actual knowledge that one of these childrenÂs products contained more than 600 ppm lead or continued to make, import, distribute or sell such a product after being put on notice. Agency staff will seek recalls of violative childrenÂs products or other corrective actions, where appropriate.

Table B - These materials or components can be used (separately or
in combination) and sold (provided they have not been treated or altered
or undergone any processing that could result in the addition of lead):

* Wood
* Other natural materials such as coral, amber, feathers, fur, leather, etc.
* Paper and other materials made from wood or cellulosic fiber
* Dyed or undyed textiles (cotton, wool, hemp, nylon, yarn, etc.), including childrenÂs fabric products, such as baby blankets, and non-metallic thread and trim. This does not include products that have rhinestones or other ornaments that may contain lead or that have fasteners with possible lead content (such as buttons, metal snaps, zippers or grommets).
* ChildrenÂs books that use modern printing processes (CMYK process printing inks). This does not include any part of a book that may contain lead (plastic, metal, or painted parts, such as spiral binding)
* Certain educational materials, such as chemistry sets
* Precious gemstones: diamond, ruby, sapphire or emeralds
* Semiprecious stones provided that the mineral or material is not based on lead and is not associated with any mineral based on lead
* Natural or cultured pearls
* Surgical steel and other stainless steel (except stainless steel designated as 303Pb)
* Gold, of at least 10 karats
* Silver, at least 925/1000 pure
* Platinum, palladium, rhodium, osmium, iridium, ruthenium, and titanium

Here is a link that might be useful: Guidance for small manufacturers, importers & crafters...

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 12:38PM
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From your link:

I donate the childrenÂs products that I make to local charities and hospitals. Can I continue to send them my handmade donations?

Yes, you can make and donate childrenÂs products to local charities and hospitals, if they are made of exempted materials or materials that you feel confident do not contain lead (see Table B). ChildrenÂs products made of yarn, dyed or undyed fabrics and natural materials such as untreated wood or cotton do not contain lead at levels sufficient to exceed the new lead limits.

If your products are made for children 12 and under, they will need to be third-party tested if you use paint or a similar surface coating (pdf). Products for children under 3 will need to be tested to the small parts standard (pdf) if you create a product (such as a toy, puzzle or doll) that could break into small pieces when used, dropped or otherwise handled by a child.

Avoid making and donating childrenÂs products with soft vinyl or plastic, buttons or zipper pulls, or metal jewelry or embellishment or other pieces that may exceed the lead or phthalates limits.

That says if you paint a toy made of wood, it has to be tested. There are a ton of folks out there protesting the 'unintended consequences' just like the quote I copied from the info in your link.

The major problem is the government no longer uses common sense. That causes thousands of problems.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 5:56PM
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Thanks all. I'm actually not doing this on a large enough scale to be fretting about the legal part yet (and anyway, the ruling doesn't take effect for another year, I think.) So I'm not talking about what will be exempt from CPSC test requirements, but about what's actually safe--what paint you would be willing to use on a toy for your kid. And I'm interested in rich, saturated color as well as safety.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 7:10PM
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Try those paints I mentioned. Very bright colors.

Oh, and so far, there are no exemptions to the still to go into effect law. The only toy not required to be tested, free or for sale, are single toys. So, you could make a toy and give/sell it with no worry. But, make a second one like it---and you either get it tested or break the law.

That is as it stands now.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 8:12PM
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Thank you very much for the update. That is good to know.

~ Sam

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 1:58PM
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I've been using finishes by OSMO - a German company. They state that their stains conform to a European safety code for purity and can be used on children's toys. So far they've been nice to work with - decent colors, low odor and seem to stand up to kid (ab)use.
I found them online

Here is a link that might be useful: osmo

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 7:36PM
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It does not matter if the finish of any sort has been tested or certified. The only test that counts is on the finished product.

Our woodworking club donates nearly 1000 toys every year to charity. One of our members is a compliance officer for a large company in town. After extensive review, we decided that all toys should have NO FINISH. There are additional requirements for sizes of parts on toys intended for children under three. And from our understanding, you cannot just make a toy normally and conventionally used by an infant or toddler and label it, "For children over three years old."

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 3:40PM
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What about shellac?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 1:19PM
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"What about shellac?"

How do you know it is not contaminated?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 4:30PM
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Mix it yourself with flakes and alcohol?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 6:44PM
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