Magnet Safety Standards & Regulations in the European Union: An Overview

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Magnet Regulations EU

Magnets and products that contain magnets carry ingestion and other types of hazards, especially for young children. In this article, we cover EU regulations and EN standards that manufacturers, brands, and importers of magnets or magnetic materials need to comply with before selling in the EU.

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EN 71-1: Mechanical and Physical Properties

EN 71-1 specifies requirements and test methods for the mechanical and physical properties of toys, such as small parts, long cords, and more. It states requisites regarding the magnetic flux and size of magnets used in toys. The purpose is to restrict the magnetic flux in small magnets. If the flux is too strong, magnets could attract each other in the stomach of a child that swallows them, causing an obstruction or perforation of the intestine.

Magnet Ingestion Hazards

As we explained above, the consequence of children swallowing magnets is serious as the magnets can attract with each other or other metal items in the body (such as a metal stent or other metal supports for organs or joints) causing perforations, blockages, and ruptures.

Warning Requirements

EN 71-1 states that loose magnets that can be swallowed by children must carry a warning label in the product packaging.

Testing Methods

The standard states that toy magnets and magnetic toys must be tested according to the flux index test, which is a test to determine the strength of the magnetic field.

Toy Safety Directive

EN 71-1 is harmonized under the Toy Safety Directive, which means that compliance with EN-71 provides a presumption of conformity with the technical requirements set out by the Toy Safety Directive.

The general requirements of the Toy Safety Directive include the following:

  • Declaration of Conformity (DoC)
  • Technical file
  • Test report
  • Risk assessment
  • CE Mark
  • Label including traceability information
  • User instructions
  • Warning statements (if applicable)
  • Notified body assessment (if applicable)

Relevant Articles

Here we list some articles that are relevant for magnetic toys:

EN 60404 – Magnetic Materials

EN 60404 – Magnetic Materials is a series of standards that aims at classifying, testing, and measuring different types of magnetic materials.

EN 60404-1 – Magnetic Materials – Classification categorizes commercially available magnetic materials, such as:

a. Soft magnetic materials with coercivity lower or equal to 1,000 A/m

b. Hard magnetic materials with coercivity greater than 1,000 A/m

According to the classification, different test methods might apply.

Testing Methods

Other parts of this standards’ series introduce measurement and test methods concerning the magnetic properties of different types of soft or hard magnetic materials. For example, part 12 is a test guide to assess the temperature capability of interlaminar insulation coatings.

RoHS Directive

The RoHS Directive restricts the use of certain heavy metals, flame retardants, and phthalates in electrical and electronic devices. Since some common heavy metals express strong magnetism, certain magnetic materials may be added with alloying elements such as copper, manganese, or chromium to improve their magnetic properties and resistivity.

This means magnetic materials or components could also contain RoHS restricted heavy metals, such as cadmium.

Companies that manufacture, import, or distribute magnetic materials might decide to test their products against the substance restrictions of the RoHS Directive, even if their products may not be covered by the directive. This might include products such as:

  • Door stoppers
  • Magnetic pencils
  • Magnet walls
  • Magnetic catapult
  • Magnetic writing board

Here we provide some examples of companies that declare to test their magnets against the RoHS Directive substance restrictions:

Restricted Substances

The RoHS Directive restricts the following substances in electrical and electronic products to be lower than 0.1% by weight (except for cadmium, which is limited to 0.01%):

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium
  • Hexavalent chromium
  • Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB)
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)
  • Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
  • Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP)
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)

Requirements

The RoHS Directive requires that electronic and electrical products covered by its rule must not contain more than 0.1% by weight of either of the substances listed above (or 0.01% for cadmium).

Besides that, the following requirements also apply:

  • Declaration of Conformity (DoC)
  • Technical file
  • Test report
  • CE Mark
  • Label including traceability information

General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)

The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) applies to consumer products sold in the member states of the EU. The GPSD sets out the general principles and regulatory framework for manufacturers, distributors, and importers, regarding product safety, recalls, and other procedures.

EN Standards

The GPSD requires that importers and manufacturers must ensure that their products are safe for consumers, before being placed in the EU market.

If no specific harmonized standards for their product exist, importers and manufacturers can still choose to follow relevant EN standards, international, or national standards. For example, companies that import or manufacture magnets could still decide to test their products against the requirements of EN 71-1, even if their product is not a children’s toy.

Requirements

Manufacturers or importers of magnets must comply with the requirements established by the GPSD, which include preparing documents such as the following:

  • Risk assessment report
  • Technical file
  • Test report
  • User instructions
  • Label file, including producer and product information

REACH

REACH is a regulation that applies to consumer products sold in the EU. It sets limits to chemicals that are used in the products and that are deemed dangerous for the user or the environment.

Restricted Substances

Annex XVII

Products that contain substances listed in REACH Annex XVII above the maximum allowed limit are prohibited. For example, lead and its compounds are listed in REACH Annex XVII. Decorative magnets that contain lead equal to or more than 0.05% by weight are prohibited.

Magnets that contain cadmium might also be affected by the requirements of REACH Annex XVII, where cadmium-plated articles or components of such articles are prohibited to be used in equipment and machinery for:

  • Food production
  • Household goods
  • Furniture
  • Sanitary ware

Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) Candidate List

Importers and manufacturers of products that contain substances listed in the SVHC Candidate List in an amount higher than 0.1% weight should notify the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), via the SCIP database. This also concerns magnets, and products that contain magnetic material.

Permanent Magnets

Under the REACH Regulation, a permanent magnet, that is a magnet that is hard to be demagnetized, is treated as a substance or a mixture and not as an article. ECHA’s website explains that this is because permanent magnets’ chemical composition is more relevant for their function than the shape, surface, or design of the magnets.

Therefore, a permanent magnet is subject to the applicable substance registration or reporting requirements of REACH.

Lab Testing

Importers and manufacturers of magnets should ensure that their products do not exceed the restricted substance concentration level required by REACH. They should contact a laboratory and arrange a test for their products.

Amazon Requirements

Magnet sellers listing their products on Amazon must ensure that their products comply with applicable EU directives and regulations, such as the Toy Safety Directive, or REACH. Amazon has the right to delist non-compliant products or suspend the seller’s account if it deems it necessary.

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    Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information only. The content includes summaries written by our team members based on publicly available information about product safety standards, labeling, documentation, testing, processes, and other product compliance related topics. However, we don’t guarantee that we cover every single relevant regulation/standard/requirement, or that the information is free from errors, or covering every single scenario and exemption. We do make mistakes from time to time. We never provide legal advice of any sort.

    Changes/Updates: Product standards and substance restrictions are subject to frequent updates and changes. In addition, new regulations, standards, and/or requirements may also become effective at any time. We don’t update our articles whenever new standards/regulations/rules are added or changed. We recommend that you consult a lab testing company or other professional to get the latest information about mandatory standards/regulations in your market, country, or state. Lab testing companies generally stay up to date on new and updated standards and regulations.

    National/State-Level Standards/Regulations: Many articles don't cover all European national and US state standards, regulations, and requirements. We recommend that you consult a testing company or other professional to confirm all relevant (and current) national/state level standards and regulations.
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