Assessment of Toxic Metals and Phthalates in Children’s Toys and Clays


Toxic metals and phthalates are introduced in the manufacturing of plastic toys and modeling clays. In Lebanon, inexpensive plastic toys and modeling clays (sold in dollar stores) are affordable and popular, and there is no legislation to monitor or regulate such toys. This study aimed to assess the quality of inexpensive plastic toys and modeling clays imported in Lebanon. Metal concentrations in toys, namely, zinc [not detectable (ND) to 3,708 μg/g], copper (ND to 140), chromium (ND to 75 μg/g), tin (ND to 39 μg/g), and cadmium (Cd) (ND to 20 μg/g), were lower than the European Union (EU) Directive limits, whereas lead (ND to 258 μg/g) in 10 % of samples and antimony (Sb) (ND to 195 μg/g) in 5 % of samples were greater than the EU limits. In modeling clays, most of the metals were lower than the EU Directive limits except for Cd and arsenic (As). Cd was detected in 83 % of samples, with a mean level of 9.1 μg/g, which is far greater than the EU Directive limit (1.9 μg/g). The As mean level of 4.5 μg/g was greater than the EU limit (4.0 μg/g) and was detected in 9 % of samples. Phthalic acid esters (PAEs) were found in 60 % of children’s toys and 77 % of modeling clays. Phthalic acid butyl ester had the highest-level PAE encountered and was ≤59.1 % in one type of clay. However, among children’s toys, di(4-octyl) ester terephthalic acid was the highest encountered phthalate at a concentration of 25.7 %. The community survey indicated that 82 % of households purchase their toys from inexpensive shops and that only 17 % of parents were aware of the health hazard of such toys. Consequently, an intervention plan was proposed for the provision of safe toys to children.

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Correspondence to Samira I. Korfali.

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Korfali, S.I., Sabra, R., Jurdi, M. et al. Assessment of Toxic Metals and Phthalates in Children’s Toys and Clays. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 65, 368–381 (2013).

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  • European Union
  • Phthalate
  • DEHP
  • European Union Directive
  • Modeling Clay