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FLEXO Magazine : February 2009
DI A U... D OCESSES What Do Children's Toy Safety Regulations have to do with Packaging Ink Specifications? By Michael Impastato I nmost cases children's toy safety regulations do not impact ink specifications. The only time you are required to follow and meet the children's toy safety regulations is when the printed package itself is part of the toy, or is expected to be played with in conjunction with the toy. A common example may be a reusable bag which is intended for the storage of toy parts and pieces. Of course there are many requirements for packaging and packaging inks. The most common general requirement for packaging is the specification on heavy metals typically referred to a "CONEG"-named after the Coalition of Northeastern Governors, which first devised the Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation. This legislation requires the elimination of intention- ally introduced lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromi- um in packaging and the materials which go into packaging, such as ink (see FLEXO June, page 50). HEAVY METALS Toy safety has always been a prime concern in North America, and regulations have been legislated for years. The key regula- tion is ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) F963. The standard was originally drafted in 1971 and published by the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) as PS 72-76. The document came into the newly formed Subcommittee F15.22 on Toy Safety in the early 1980s for a thorough review, and the result, incorporating safety and labeling requirements from the u.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, was F 963. - The primary aspect of F963 for ink manufacturers is likely the restriction of heavy metal use in paints and surface coatings for toys. F963 restricts the amount of soluble heavy metals which can be present. Those heavy metals listed in F963 and regulated are: Antimony Arsenic Barium Cadmium Chromium Lead Mercury Selenium There is no general requirement that packaging, or packaging inks, meet the F963 requirements specified for children's toys. This standard is intended to cover the requirements related to toys. But, since being established in the 1980's, some print buy- ers adopted the F963 requirements for children's toys for broader use across packaging, which is not covered by these regulations. This may have been done as a way to further protect the packag- ing buyer from potential liability, or bad public relations. In any case, this was not a problem since the ink industry had eliminated most of these materials under the CONEG legislative require- ments. The only conflict, which comes up occasionally, is the presence of barium. Therefore, inks which must meet the F963 requirements should be examined for soluble barium. In the last few years we have seen several news stories about consumer products (including toys) which have been contami- nated with, or deliberately manufactured with, toxic materials. In nearly all cases these consumer products were imported from FEBRUARY 2009 www.flexography.org FLEXO
Sustainable Winter 2009