Magnets and magnet-containing products may pose serious safety hazards to consumers – especially young children. As a result, it is important to fulfill the relevant product compliance requirements, including physical, substance, labeling, and testing requirements.
In this guide, we outline what importers and manufacturers of magnets (including products with magnets) need to know about 16 CFR Part 1262, ASTM standards, RoHS, and California Proposition 65.
We also cover Amazon’s prohibition of certain magnets.
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16 CFR Part 1262 – Safety Standard for Magnets
16 CFR Part 1262 contains safety requirements for magnet products. It aims at diminishing or removing the likelihood of children (and adults) ingesting hazardous magnets and suffering harm because of it.
A “hazardous magnet” is defined in 16 CFR Part 1262.2 as a magnet that:
a. Fits in a cylinder that has the dimensions outlined in 16 CFR Part 1501.4, and
b. Has a flux index of minimum 50 kG2 mm2.
According to 16 CFR Part 1262.3, covered magnet products can only contain loose or separable magnets that are not deemed to be “hazardous”.
The standard covers magnet products that contain at least one loose magnet and are designed, marketed, or meant for the following purposes:
- Jewelry for both adults and children
- Mental stimulation
- Stress relief
- Any combination of the above
Notice that these products are not necessarily toys or children’s products. As such, the standard sets mandatory magnet safety requirements for products that were not already covered by CPSIA, and by extension the magnet provisions under ASTM F963.
16 CFR Part 1262 does not cover products sold or distributed to the following consumer categories:
- School educators
- Commercial users
- Industrial users
Additionally, toys that are subject to 16 CFR Part 1250 are exempted from the requirements of 16 CFR Part 1262.
The reason is that toys subjected to 16 CFR Part 1250 must comply with ASTM F963, which already sets safety requirements for magnet products.
Even though this is not mentioned in 16 CFR Part 1262, according to the CPSC, importers and manufacturers of magnets covered by this standard should draft a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC).
You can find more information on this page.
The standard sets requirements for the dimension and the flux index of magnets. In particular, it requires the flux index of loose magnets that fit into a small parts cylinder as described in 16 CFR Part 1501.4 to be less than 50 kG2 mm2, when tested with the procedure set by section 8.25.1 through 8.25.3 of ASTM F963.
ASTM F963 – Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety
ASTM F963 is a safety standard applicable to toys and other children’s products intended for children younger than 14 years. It also sets requirements for covered products that contain magnets.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) has incorporated by reference ASTM F963, thereby requiring importers and manufacturers of covered magnets to comply with the requirements of the standard.
Here we list a few examples of magnetic toys that were recalled due to different types of hazards:
a. Magnetic blocks – Recalled due to ingestion hazards.
b. Magnetic ball set – Recalled due to ingestion hazards.
c. Magnetic fishing game – Recalled due to choking hazard.
You can find the above products on the CPSC’s dedicated page for product recalls.
According to this guidance document published by the CPSC, ASTM F963 includes:
a. Labeling requirements for magnetic products.
b. A cyclic soaking test for mouthpieces from mouth-actuated toys that have magnets or magnetic components.
Additionally, according to 16 CFR Part 1262, section 8.25.1–8.25.3 of ASTM F963 contains a method for the measurement of the flux index of magnets.
Finally, ASTM reviewed the ASTM F963 standard in order to add specific use and abuse tests to prevent the detachment of magnets from the toys that contain them.
Other ASTM standards
ASTM F3458 – Standard Specification for Marketing, Packaging and Labeling Adult Magnet Sets Containing Small, Loose, Powerful Magnets
ASTM F3458 aims to minimize the hazards of young children and teens accidentally swallowing magnets intended for adults aged 14 and over.
It covers requirements regarding the labeling, marketing, and packaging of adult magnet sets that:
- Are small
- Are loose
- Have a flux index of greater than or equal to 50 kG2 mm2
ASTM F2999 – Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Adult Jewelry
ASTM F2999 provides safety requirements and test methods for specific substances and mechanical hazards regarding adult jewelry and piercings. It also contains requirements for warnings and intended user labeling.
Finally, the standard sets several substance restrictions, including for heavy metals that can be found on magnets, such as:
ASTM F2923 – Standard Specification for Consumer Product Safety for Children’s Jewelry
ASTM F2923 sets out safety requirements for mechanical hazards in jewelry meant for children aged 12 and below. According to 16 CFR Part 1262.5, this includes requirements concerning magnet ingestion.
It also contains guidelines and recommendations regarding age labeling, identifying intended users, and warnings.
Further, as for ASTM F2999, the standard sets restrictions for substances that can be found in magnets, such as:
ASTM A977 – Standard Test Method for Magnetic Properties of High-Coercivity Permanent Magnet Materials Using Hysteresigraphs
The ASTM A977 test method covers the determination of the magnetic characteristics (e.g., initial magnetization, demagnetization) of permanent magnets.
This standard applies to materials processed into bulk magnets by common fabrication techniques but is not suitable for thin films or very small and unusually shaped magnets.
California Proposition 65
California Proposition 65 prohibits the unrestricted use of chemicals and heavy metals that are deemed to be toxic, without using the appropriate warnings, in consumer products, including magnets.
California Proposition 65 includes restrictions on heavy metals that may be present in magnetic materials. Here are a few examples of those heavy metals and their restriction limits, if any:
- No significant risk level (NSRL) inhalation – 0.001 µg/day
- Maximum allowable dose level (MADL) oral – 8.2 µg/day
- No Significant Risk Level (NSRL): 10 µg/day (except via inhalation)
- No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) – Inhalation: 0.06 µg/day
a. Nickel and nickel compounds
No restriction limit is provided.
RoHS is an EU Directive that restricts the use of heavy metals and other dangerous substances in electronics. Several US states have adopted some of these restrictions.
Magnetic materials might contain natural or intentionally added heavy metals. For this reason, some companies, such as Magnet Shop, chose to test their products against RoHS substance restrictions, even if magnets may not always clearly fall under the scope of RoHS.
Here, we list a few examples of magnets that might contain heavy metals:
- Flexible magnet sheeting and strips
- Ceramic magnets
- Samarium cobalt magnets
- Magnetic field measuring tools
- Strong holding and lifting magnets
RoHS restricts the following heavy metals:
- Lead – Restricted to 0.1% by weight
- Mercury – Restricted to 0.1% by weight
- Hexavalent chromium – Restricted to 0.1% by weight
- Cadmium – Restricted to 0.01% by weight
Amazon US prohibits sellers from listing and selling individual novelty magnets and novelty magnet sets used for entertainment, education, mental stimulation, or stress relief purposes. The company even bans magnets sold by specific brands.
If you want to read more about Amazon’s safety policy on magnets, visit the dedicated page for magnets on Amazon Seller Central.
Importers and manufacturers need to prove their product’s compliance with relevant regulations and requirements by having their magnets or magnet-containing products tested. When their products pass testing, they receive a test report containing evidence that their products comply with relevant requirements.
We list below a few types of tests relevant to magnets or magnet-containing products.
Testing against small parts requirements is necessary for some products, in order to minimize choking risks.
It may also be necessary to test if magnets can be detached from the product.
When magnets have flux index values that are too elevated (e.g. higher than 50 kG2 mm2), the risk of magnets attracting each other in the digestive tract augments. This is why some standards set flux index value limits for small magnets.
Additionally, ASTM A977 is a method for testing the magnetic properties of permanent magnet materials.
Magnets and magnet-containing products might contain restricted substances, such as nickel and cadmium. As such, you should have your magnetic products tested to ensure they don’t contain restricted substances in amounts that exceed acceptable levels established in relevant regulations and standards (e.g., California Proposition 65).
Here are some examples of companies that offer testing against US requirements: