Originally published: March 25, 2019
Updated: March 18, 2020
Discovery Toys MagnaTile® knockoffs
When tested with an XRF instrument, the metal hollow rivets on these MerchSource MagnaTile® knockoffs (by Discovery Toys / DiscoveryKids) are positive for Arsenic. This is consistent with all magnetic tile toys of this nature that I have tested (all of the different off-brand versions of these toys — I have not yet tested the original brand-name Magna-Tile® toys for a full report on this blog, but I invite my readers to send some in, here’s a link about how that testing works.)
Continue reading below the image.
Which component is testing positive for Arsenic?
These little metal components – see image above) that could best be described as “hollow rivets” (or “grommets”, possibly?) are – on any toy like this, of every brand I have tested – nearly always positive for a low level of Arsenic (As) and/or Mercury (Hg). This is also true in children’s sneakers, toys, belts, back packs and other clothing items that might have these connection points – but most prevalently found in sneakers for babies and toddlers in my experience. I have found it to be the case dozens upon dozens of times, it has reached the point where I can pretty much look at these little metal connection points without the XRF and know if it is going to be one of those that will be positive for Mercury and/or Arsenic! [I was confident this one pictured here would be positive for one or both of those before I tested it.]
Is this a lot of Arsenic?
Is this amount of Arsenic truly a concern?
This is considered to be a very low level of Arsenic – a “trace” amount. Even though this is a relatively LOW level reading of Arsenic (and there is no XRF-detectable total content regulatory limit of any sort on Arsenic for toys, see chart below) the component tested does not even begin to fill the scope (testing window) of the XRF — consequently, I believe lab testing of this component would come up with a total Arsenic level (using digestive testing) that would likely be between five and ten times the detection reading I got – and possibly much higher… (so, in the 100 – 200 ppm range or higher).
Continue reading below image, or click the table image to read more about the study that created the table below.
Where were the toys (pictured here) purchased?
It looks like MerchSource makes toys for the Discovery Channel and the Smithsonian – so I would bet these come from one of those outlets. I will be calling them this week to alert them of this concern. I know they have the resources to make this right, and they probably are not even aware that it is an issue / don’t consider it an issue – because there is no mandated total content limit for Arsenic in toys. Personally I think the XRF-detectable limit for total Arsenic content should be ZERO – especially for a toy like this that a baby is VERY LIKELY to put in their mouth and suck on – right on the point with the Arsenic!
Takeaway for this type of toy:
- If your children do not put toys like this in their mouths, the fact that there is trace Arsenic in the connection points is, in my opinion, not a major concern.
- If you have children that will put this sort of toy in their mouth – consider setting them aside until they no longer engage in that sort of behavior OR consider investing in the types / brands without the metal connection points (there are several brands available without this type of construction.)
- Please also buy the best quality brand of this sort of toy that you can afford, as the magnets present a massive hazard as well (if they were to come apart) and you want to make sure you do not purchase a toy like this that might easily come apart.
XRF test results
Here’s the full XRF reading set for this toy, when tested for a minimum of 90 seconds in Consumer Goods mode:
Test with focus on one of the rivets:
- Arsenic (As): 18 +/- 2 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 201 +/- 50 ppm
- Selenium (Se): 111 +/- 6 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 4,626 +/- 57 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 9,818 +/- 98 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 656 +/- 20 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 12,700 +/- 100 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 253 +/- 96 ppm
Second test on another rivet:
- Arsenic – 25 +/- 2 ppm
Continue reading below the images (each color of plastic was tested separately and reports are listed below.)
Additional tests on the various colors of plastic (with none of the rivet in the scope of the XRF) were done for at least 30 seconds each.
- Bromine (Br): 5 +/- 3 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 30 +/- 10 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 31 +/- 15 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 204 +/- 34 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 3,881 +/- 410 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 23 +/- 14 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 2,846 +/- 94 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 1,066 +/- 295 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 68 +/- 17 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 3,291 +/- 103 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 768 +/- 284 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 31 +/- 11 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 80 +/- 17 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 6,278 +/- 137 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 493 +/- 245 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 14 +/- 9 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 21 +/- 11 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 5,918 +/- 125 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 656 +/- 236 ppm
Here is a safer choice for this style of toy – one of the types that does not have the potentially toxic exposed metal bits in the corners: https://amzn.to/33jNBwi
As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for reading – and for sharing my posts.
I have another, similar toy I will be posting shortly.
Update: The mom who sent these toys to me sent me pictures of the box which made it possible for me to confirm the brand. The brand is Discovery Toys and the box has the year 2017 on it, even though the tiles say “c.2013, ’14” (so I assume these are a batch from 2017 and the copyright is from 2013/2014).