Health Canada Takes Action on Products Containing Small, Powerful Magnets

April 29, 2013 | Health Canada, the Canadian agency responsible for national public health, has announced that it will work to identify and remove from the marketplace any consumer products that contain small, powerful magnets which pose a danger to young children. The agency has determined that such products are in violation of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA).

In a press release issued earlier this month detailing several steps to be taken to improve the safety of consumer products, drugs and food, Health Canada stated that it will target magnet sets containing “more than one small powerful magnet, where the set is intended for use as a toy or for puzzle working, sculpture building, mental stimulation or stress relief, regardless of the intended age of the user.” The agency has also expressed concern about children’s toys containing small powerful magnets or magnetic components.

The government requires that all toys on the Canadian marketplace conform to at least one of the latest versions of internationally respected safety standards, such as ASTM F963, EN 71, or ISO 8124 with respect to magnets or magnetic components.

“The U.S. Toy Industry Association (TIA) is supportive of international toy safety standards that prohibit the use of certain small, powerful magnets in toys and toy components intended for children under 14 years old,” stated Joan Lawrence, TIA vice president of standards and regulatory affairs. “ASTM F963 has had requirements that effectively address small magnets in toys since 2006 and these requirements have served as a model internationally. We are pleased that Health Canada will recognize these existing ASTM F963 requirements for magnets in toys and we encourage efforts to reduce the risks posed by those other non-toy products intended for adults that have been associated with recent incidents among children.”

As previously reported, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Health Canada recently affirmed their intent to align toy safety standards, specifically using the ASTM F963 model and the ASTM subcommittee F15.22 in doing so. The recent announcement by Health Canada requiring magnets to comply with the ASTM toy safety standard (or another international standard) is consistent with this commitment to cooperate.

TIA and the Canadian Toy Association continue to urge for cross-border standards alignment. Further actions taken by Health Canada regarding magnets and any updates on U.S.-Canada toy standards alignment will be communicated to TIA members.