Potentially toxic elements in toys and children's jewelry: A critical review of recent advances in legislation and in scientific research

Mert Guney, Symbat Kismelyeva, Zhanel Akimzhanova, Kamila Beisova

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Contamination by potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in children's toys and jewelry is an ongoing problem where PTEs can become bioavailable especially via oral pathway (ingestion as a whole or of parts, and mouthing) and may cause adverse health effects for children. In the present review, legislation updates from the last decade in the United States (U.S.), Canada, and the European Union (E.U.) on PTEs in toys and jewelry are presented. Then, a literature review mostly covering the last decade on the total concentration, bioavailability, children's exposure, and bioaccessibility of PTEs in toys and jewelry is provided. The U.S. and Canadian legislations mainly focus on lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) total/soluble concentration limits to prevent exposure and have received several updates within the last decade, extending particularly the covered span of children's products. It seems that the introduction, subsequent enforcement, and update of regulations in developed countries have shifted the problem towards developing countries. In terms of categories, metallic toys and children's jewelry still have the most severe PTE contamination and the presence of Pb and Cd in these articles is an ongoing issue. Some studies suggest that color can be used as an indicator for the potential presence of PTEs (linked to chemicals such as lead chromate, cadmium sulfide) but the evidence is not always clear. Another concern is vintage/second-hand toys and jewelry as those items might have been produced before the legislation was present. As total and bioaccessible concentrations of PTEs in toys and jewelry do not always correlate, approaches considering bioaccessibility (e.g. of the E.U.) are more scientifically appropriate and help with better estimation of risk from exposure. Studies on toy and jewelry contamination using in vitro bioaccessibility techniques has become more common, however, there is still no in vitro test specifically designed and validated for toys and jewelry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114627
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Cadmium (Cd)
  • Children's jewelry
  • Lead (Pb)
  • Metals
  • Toy contamination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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