Flammability testing of toys to EN 71-2
For toys to gain a European CE mark, they must meet the requirements in the EN 71 standard, part 2.
The safety of a child is an emotive subject, which is particularly close to the heart of every parent. When purchasing products for a child, product safety is an essential issue. Loose components, sharp edges, finger traps, the presence of toxic substances and materials which are too flammable can all result in serious harm to the child and severe consequences for the suppliers of any product deemed to be unsafe.
Toys that are sold within the European Union are required to bear the CE mark. This is the manufacturer’s declaration that the product meets the European Toy Safety Directive (2009/48/EC), and has undergone a variety of product tests to ensure that it is safe for use.
The main European standard for mechanical, physical and chemical testing of toys is EN 71: Safety of toys. The standard is currently split into a series of 11 individual parts (see box 1), with the first three being of a more general nature. Part 1 covers general mechanical physical testing, part 2 describes flammability testing and part 3 deals with the migration of certain chemicals. The remaining parts are more specific in that they cover particular product types or more specialised testing procedures.
|Box 1: Other parts of EN 71|
BS EN 71-1:2011
BS EN 71-2:2011
BS EN 71-3:2013
BS EN 71-4:2013
BS EN 71-5:2013
BS EN 71-7:2002
BS EN 71-8:2011
BS EN 71-9:2005+A1:2007
BS EN 71-10:2005
BS EN 71-11:2005
BS EN 71-12:2013
Part 2 flammability
Part 2 of the standard is intended to reduce the risks of burn injuries associated with children being in intimate contact with certain kinds of toy. Most materials used in the production of toys will burn if exposed to an appropriate ignition source. Therefore, it is not considered practical to require toys to be non-flammable. Instead, the different test methods are based on a limited rate of spread of flame or maximum ‘after flame time’, which is intended to allow the child to drop the toy or become distanced from the product before serious injury occurs.
The standard concentrates on:
- clothes worn by a child as disguise costumes – for example, a nurse’s outfit
- toys a child can enter, such as play tents and tunnels
- soft filled toys – for instance, animals and dolls for cuddling by a child
- children’s masks and wigs.
There are various requirements that need to be achieved when testing the flammability of a toy, which are dependent on the type of product that is being tested. For some toys, the most important characteristic is the rate of spread of flame, which should be no more than 30mm/s. For other types of toy, the maximum flaming time is important (for beards, wigs and masks), as well as an absence of flaming debris or molten drips. Common to all is the prohibition of celluloid materials and pile fabrics that exhibit surface flash characteristics.
Prior to testing, certain types of toy should be washed or cleaned in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations where available, or soaked in water then drained and dried if no guidance is provided. Toys where the label or instructions specifically state that washing is not recommended have generally been tested as received. However, the new Toy Safety Directive includes a requirement for hygiene for toys intended for children under 36 months. These toys must be able to be cleaned (washable if textile toys), and they have to meet with requirements after this washing.
Testing is carried out in a specified flammability chamber after preconditioning in an environment at a temperature of 20±5ºC and a relative humidity of 65±5 per cent RH for at least seven hours. A small gas flame is applied to the sample for a specified period of time. Upon removal of the flame, the time of any continued burning is recorded. When required, the rate of spread of flame is determined by measuring the time for the flames to spread over a known distance – sometimes achieved by the use of marker threads that control automated timing equipment. Samples that burn more quickly than 30mm/s are considered to have failed, while certain sample types with a burning rate between 10mm/s and 30mm/s must display the following warning: ‘Warning! Keep away from fire’.
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Please email email@example.com for further information on the general testing of toys. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with EN 71-2 flammability testing.