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New Mobile Toy Tool Can Help Parents Shop Safe


Boston, MA – Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, MASSPIRG announced on Tuesday in its 24th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

The latest Trouble in Toyland report, along with a new interactive tool accessible via smart phone or computer – or – will help parents and other toy-buyers avoid some common hazards.

And if toy buyers discover they have bought a dangerous toy, they can report it to U.S. PIRG using the new interactive app and website. Consumers should also report dangerous products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

“Now parents can shop safely and avoid purchasing potentially dangerous toys for their kids,” said MASSPIRG’s Ramon Bullard.

The 2009 Trouble in Toyland report – and the mobile app and website – focused on three categories of toy hazards: toys that may pose choking hazards, toys that are excessively loud, and toys that contain the toxic chemicals lead and phthalates.

MASSPIRG noted that some progress has been made on toy safety in the past year, thanks to a new law overhauling the CPSC.

“But there’s no magic wand to fix the CPSC, and making products safer won’t happen overnight,” said Ramon Bullard. He added. “Restoring consumer confidence in the products we buy will take continued hard work on the part of the CPSC and responsible retailers and manufacturers.”

The findings in this year’s Trouble in Toyland highlight the need for continued improvement in order to protect America’s children:

•    Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, there are still toys available that pose serious choking hazards. Between 1990 and 2008, at least 196 children died after choking or asphyxiating on a toy or toy part; three died in 2008 alone.

•    Many toys tested exceeded 85 decibels sound level, which is higher than the highest volume level recommended by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Almost 15 percent of children aged 6 to 17 show signs of hearing loss.

•    Earlier this year, toys and other children’s products containing more than 0.1% of phthalates were banned. Still, MASSPIRG found children’s products that contained concentrations of phthalates up to 7.2%.

•    Lead was severely restricted in toys earlier this year, but some PIRG researchers did find lead-laced toys on store shelves. Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body. One preschool book contained lead paint far above the new limits and U.S. PIRG notified the CPSC.

“We’re encouraged that Toys R Us stopped the sale of this particular book once our researchers notified the CPSC of the lead paint violation,” Ramon noted. “We hope we can continue to see this kind of progress in protecting kids from all toy hazards.”

But one store chain removing one book from its shelves is not enough to keep the country’s children from harm.

In fact, according to the most recent data from the CPSC, toy-related injuries sent more than 82,000 children under the age of five to emergency rooms in 2008. Nineteen children died from toy-related injuries that year.

“The real tragedy is that many of these injuries and deaths are completely preventable.  Every shift I work in the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital Boston I see preventable injuries” said Dr. Lois Lee.

That’s why the PIRG federation developed the interactive tool – or – that allows shoppers to check on possible hazards, as well as report hazards they find.

For 24 years, MASSPIRG’s Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards.

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