Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s Annual Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

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Diane E. Brown

Shopping Tips Can Help Parents Shop Safe

Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s annual Trouble in Toyland report. The survey of hazardous toys found that, despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season.

The report reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for toxic chemicals, including lead, chromium and phthalates, all of which can have serious, adverse health impacts on a child’s development. The survey also found examples of small toys that pose a choking hazard, extremely loud toys that threaten children’s hearing, and powerful toy magnets that can cause serious injury if swallowed.

“Consumers should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, parents and other consumers need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Jason Donofrio, Campaign Director for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.

For 29 years, Arizona PIRG’s Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children, and provided examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards.

Key findings from the report include:

    • Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund found toys containing phthalates well over legal limits, as well as toys with lead or chromium content above limits. For example, the group found a badge playset where two of the four play badges (sheriff’s star and special police badge) contain excessive lead.
    • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under the age of three, the group found toys that still pose choking hazards. Children, especially those under age three, can choke on small parts. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund also identified multiple toys containing near-small parts, which are pieces that almost fit into the choke tube and can be a choking hazard.
    • The group found toys that are potentially harmful to children’s ears and hearing. Excessive noise exposure is especially problematic for young children: Hearing loss at an early age has ramifications for speech development.
    • The Arizona PIRG Education Fund continued to find small, powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed. When two or more powerful magnets are swallowed, they can have fatal health consequences as their attractive forces draw them together inside the body, perforating intestinal walls.

Over the past six years, stronger rules have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children’s products off the market. Rules put in place by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act tightened lead limits and phased out dangerous phthalates. The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recent ban on small, powerful toy magnet sets is another important step forward. However, according to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, not all toys comply with the law, and holes in the toy safety net remain.

Parents can find the Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s list of unsafe toys, as well as tips for safe toy shopping this holiday season, at