Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

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Evan Preston

Shopping Tips, Mobile Website Can Help Parents Shop Safe

ConnPIRG Education Fund

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to Connecticut Public Interest Research Group’s 27th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

This morning ConnPIRG released the report, joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal, Child Advocate Jamey Bell and from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center: President Martin J. Gavin, Dr. Scott Schoem, Director of Otolaryngology and Karen Gallo, Director, Safe Kids Connecticut. The report reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead, cadmium and phthalates, all of which have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children.  The survey also found small toys that pose a choking hazard, extremely loud toys that threaten children’s hearing, and toy magnets that can cause serious injury.

The Trouble in Toyland report also includes a list of dangerous toys that surveyors found on toy store shelves. The list includes a dangerous magnet toy, a bowling game that is a choking hazard and a cell phone rattle that is harmful to little ears.

Senator Blumenthal said, “All too often, toxic toys turn playtime into hospital time, as dangerous gifts to toddlers send them to emergency rooms. Simple information can help generous gift givers to protect children from peril — choking, poisoning, and other injury, illness or even death. Informed vigilance is the goal.”

“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Abe Scarr, ConnPIRG Director.

“Connecticut Children’s vision is to make Connecticut’s children the healthiest in the country,” said Martin J. Gavin, President and CEO of Connecticut Children’s. “While we are best known for providing the highest level of specialized care to children after they become sick or injured, we are also a recognized leader in the development of programs that prevent sickness and injuries from happening to children in the first place.”

For 27 years, the ConnPIRG 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.  The group also provides an interactive website with tips for safe toy shopping that consumers can access on their smartphones at

Key findings from the report include: 

• Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. We found toys which contained phthalates, as well as toys with lead content above the 100 parts per million limit.
• Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards. 
• We also found toys that are potentially harmful to children’s ears and exceed the noise standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
• We discovered small powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed.

“Parents and toy givers need to remember that while the CPSC is doing a good job, no government agency tests all toys before they hit store shelves.  Consumers should also remember that toys that are not on our list of examples could also pose hazards,” Scarr concluded. “The message of today is clear. Parents have to stay vigilant.  We cannot and must not accept any weakening of our consumer and public health safeguards because they protect young children, America’s littlest consumers.”  

To download our Toy Tips or the full Trouble in Toyland report, click here.