Winter 2018 News Briefs


Toy Safety

Protecting Children From Dangerous Products

We need to protect our youngest consumers from unsafe toys. For more than 30 years, Illinois PIRG Education Fund has worked hard to identify toys that threaten our children, call on manufacturers and regulators to take important actions, and inform parents and caregivers of the dangers that could be in their homes. 

Lead In Fidget Spinners 

Last fall, our researchers made a particularly alarming discovery when we tested fidget spinners for lead: We found two fidget spinners from Target that had up to 300 times the legal limit for lead in children’s products. 

We immediately called on Target to remove the toxic spinners from its website and stores, and spread the word through major media outlets, including CBS and The Washington Post. Within days of releasing our test results, Target removed the two fidget spinners from its shelves. 

Now, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Target and the manufacturer Bulls i Toy need to ensure that these two fidget spinners are fully recalled. 

32nd Annual Toy Report 

In November, Illinois PIRG Education Fund released our 32nd annual Trouble In Toyland report, which found that stores nationwide are still offering dangerous toys and, in some cases, ignoring explicit government safety regulations in the process. 

In addition to exposing fidget spinners full of lead, the report found inadequately labeled toys and balloons that pose a choking hazard, and data-collecting toys that may violate children’s privacy and other consumer protection laws. We also provided a list of toys that have been recalled over the past year. 

“Our leaders and consumer watchdogs need to do more to protect our youngest consumers from the hazards of unsafe toys. No child should ever be injured, get sick or die from playing with a dangerous toy,” said Dev Gowda, toxics advocate with Illinois PIRG Education Fund. 

Visit to read our full Trouble In Toyland report.


Public Health

We’re Making Progress On Protecting Antibiotics

Fourteen of the top 25 chain restaurants in the U.S. have taken steps to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in the chicken they serve, according to a scorecard released in September by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and allies.

The third annual Chain Reaction report, which grades companies on their antibiotics policies and practices, found that while restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.

With support from our members, we’ll continue encouraging the largest chains in these industries to act to protect public health.

Read the full Chain Reaction report here.


Consumer Protection

Standing Up For Our Consumer Watchdog

Six years ago, Illinois PIRG helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to make sure banks and financial companies treat us fairly and play by the rules. Since then, the bureau has returned nearly $12 billion to ripped-off consumers. 

Yet President Trump and some in Congress are trying to strip away vital consumer protections, and even eliminate the Consumer Bureau. That’s why we knocked on more than 300,000 doors across the country last summer, mobilizing more than 60,000 citizens to sign our petition to Congress. 

In November, when Richard Cordray stepped down as director of the Consumer Bureau and the president named staunch CFPB opponent Mick Mulvaney as acting director, we doubled down on our efforts to ensure the agency stays strong and independent. With support from members like you, we’ll fight tooth and nail to ensure this important agency continues to thrive in the future. 

Get the latest from our campaign here


Consumer Protection

Protecting Student Borrowers

The student borrowers of Illinois have a friend in Illinois PIRG.

This year, we worked with Attorney General Lisa Madigan and other student and consumer advocates to pass the Illinois Student Loan Bill of Rights — bipartisan legislation that aims to prevent borrowers from being misled or ignored by the companies that service their student loans.

“Illinois borrowers deserve accurate information about their loans and what options they have to pay them back,” said Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr.

The legislation, which will go into effect at the close of December 2018, aims to address widespread abuses and service failures in the student loan industry — and to return agency to Illinois residents working to repay their student loans.

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This Earth Day, put our planet over plastic

We are working to move our country beyond plastic — and we need your help. Will you make a gift in honor of Earth Day to help us keep making progress?