10 Reasons Toys End up on Health Canada's Naughty List

At Health Canada, we give Santa a hand by testing toys in our high-tech Product Safety Laboratory. All elves making toys must obey the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, meaning that no one can make, import, sell or advertise a product that could be dangerous to our health or safety.

To do this, we put toys to the test all in the name of science and safety. And sometimes, a toy just doesn’t make the grade. 

So here are 10 reasons that toys could end up on Health Canada’s naughty list.  

1. They are too flammable

This doll is not having a great day. Her hair must not catch fire when exposed to flame for one second. If the hair does happen to catch fire, the fire must put itself out within two seconds of the doll being moved away from the flame.

This doll is not having a great day. Her hair must not catch fire when exposed to flame for one second. If the hair does happen to catch fire, the fire must put itself out within two seconds of the doll being moved away from the flame. 

2. They are covered with paint that contains unsafe chemicals

This dog and abacus have had their paint scraped off, to be tested in our chemistry lab.  Toys that have a surface coating (e.g., paint) containing unsafe amounts of lead, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, barium or mercury are not permitted. These chemicals in paint can poison children if they are eaten.

This dog and abacus have had their paint scraped off, to be tested in our chemistry lab.  Toys that have a surface coating (e.g., paint) containing unsafe amounts of lead, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, barium or mercury are not permitted. These chemicals in paint can poison children if they are eaten.

3. Their eyeballs come off

For photo ops and demonstrations, Health Canada has been testing this tough guy for over 20 years, and his eyeballs are still intact.  For the eyes and noses of dolls and stuffies, a load of 9 kilograms (20 pounds) is suspended from the eye or nose for 5 minutes. Ouch!

For photo ops and demonstrations, Health Canada has been testing this tough guy for over 20 years, and his eyeballs are still intact.  For the eyes and noses of dolls and stuffies, a load of 9 kilograms (20 pounds) is suspended from the eye or nose for 5 minutes. Ouch!

4. They are too loud!

It’s no secret that  loud noises for long periods can harm your hearing. At Health Canada, we know just how dangerous loud toys can be, and we test them to make sure they aren’t too loud. Toys must not make noise that exceeds 100 decibels when measured at the distance the toy would ordinarily be from the ear of the child when in use. For example, we are measuring this toy phone from a very close distance, while a toy lawnmower might be measured from a longer distance.

It’s no secret that loud noises for long periods can harm your hearing. At Health Canada, we know just how dangerous loud toys can be, and we test them to make sure they aren’t too loud. Toys must not make noise that exceeds 100 decibels when measured at the distance the toy would ordinarily be from the ear of the child when in use. For example, we are measuring this toy phone from a very close distance, while a toy lawnmower might be measured from a longer distance.

5. They contain small loose parts

Kids under the age of three put almost everything in their mouths. Because of this, we do special tests for any toy that might be used by babies and toddlers. If any part of a toy for a small child can fit in the small parts cylinder above (like the plastic eye shown in the photo), we will send a toy straight to the naughty list.   Often toys for older children that have small parts will have a choking hazard warning or a label that shows the toy is not for young children.

Kids under the age of three put almost everything in their mouths. Because of this, we do special tests for any toy that might be used by babies and toddlers. If any part of a toy for a small child can fit in the small parts cylinder above (like the plastic eye shown in the photo), we will send a toy straight to the naughty list.   Often toys for older children that have small parts will have a choking hazard warning or a label that shows the toy is not for young children.

6. They are an airway roadblock

Rattles must be made so that no parts can pass all the way through the hole in the centre of this rattle test gauge. Any rattle that fails could block a baby’s airway, which will definitely land a toy on the naughty list.  The rattle in the picture is passing this test!

Rattles must be made so that no parts can pass all the way through the hole in the centre of this rattle test gauge. Any rattle that fails could block a baby’s airway, which will definitely land a toy on the naughty list.  The rattle in the picture is passing this test!


7. They break when dropped
For our drop test, we drop a toy four times onto a tile-covered concrete floor.  If a toy will be used by a child under three years of age, we drop from a height of 1.37 m (4.5 feet), and from 0.91 m (3 feet) if it is likely to be used by a child aged three or older.  Each time, we drop the toy from a different angle, and we try our best to make these toys break by choosing the angle we think will do the most damage.  After the drop test, each toy is inspected for dangers like sharp points, sharp edges and detached small pieces.

For our drop test, we drop a toy four times onto a tile-covered concrete floor.  If a toy will be used by a child under three years of age, we drop from a height of 1.37 m (4.5 feet), and from 0.91 m (3 feet) if it is likely to be used by a child aged three or older.

Each time, we drop the toy from a different angle, and we try our best to make these toys break by choosing the angle we think will do the most damage.  After the drop test, each toy is inspected for dangers like sharp points, sharp edges and detached small pieces.

8. They are too pointy

This device allows us to test any points on a toy, or any parts that have broken off of a toy, to make sure they are not sharp enough to pierce the skin.  This green plastic piece broke off a toy when it was dropped (see 7. They break when dropped).  The red light in the gauge in this photo shows that this piece is too sharp!

This device allows us to test any points on a toy, or any parts that have broken off of a toy, to make sure they are not sharp enough to pierce the skin.  This green plastic piece broke off a toy when it was dropped (see 7. They break when dropped).  The red light in the gauge in this photo shows that this piece is too sharp!

9. They have sharp edges
This is also a toy that broke after it was dropped (see 7. They break when dropped).  We tested it to see if the broken edge was sharp. For this test, the texture of the special tape that we use is similar to skin, so if there is a tear in the tape, it means the edge is sharp enough to cut skin. And that’s a no-no for toys!

This is also a toy that broke after it was dropped (see 7. They break when dropped).  We tested it to see if the broken edge was sharp. For this test, the texture of the special tape that we use is similar to skin, so if there is a tear in the tape, it means the edge is sharp enough to cut skin. And that’s a no-no for toys!

10. They have parts that break off too easily

The push/pull test uses a push or pull force of 44.5 newtons that is gradually applied over 5 seconds, and then held for 10 seconds. We do this on any part of a toy that could become detached or damaged. After each test, the toy is inspected for problems like detached small parts (if it’s a toy meant for children under 3 years of age), sharp points and sharp edges.

The push/pull test uses a push or pull force of 44.5 newtons that is gradually applied over 5 seconds, and then held for 10 seconds. We do this on any part of a toy that could become detached or damaged. After each test, the toy is inspected for problems like detached small parts (if it’s a toy meant for children under 3 years of age), sharp points and sharp edges.

You can find Health Canada’s naughty list online through our recall and safety alerts database, or on your mobile device, through our mobile app

We’d like to offer our best wishes for a wonderful and safe holiday season from all of our lab analysts in the Product Safety Laboratory and here’s to hoping for an empty naughty list this year!

Come on elves, you got this.

For More Information:

Recall and Safety Alerts Database
Product Safety Lab
Recall and Safety Alerts App
Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act

Date modified: